Tell Food Delivery Apps to Please Hold The Plastic

Seamless, DoorDash, GrubHub, Delivery.com, Caviar, and Postmates

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During COVID, many more people are ordering take-out to help keep local restaurants afloat. Unfortunately, most take out orders arrive with an alarming amount of single-use items (most of them plastic) that customers do not need as most of us have plenty of cutlery, condiments, and napkins in our homes.

The vast majority of these single-use items cannot or will not be recycled, adding to our significant plastic pollution crisis, littering our streets, parks, rivers, and oceans and clogging already overfilled landfills.

Beyond Plastics and our allies in the environmental community are asking food delivery companies to help reduce this source of unnecessary plastic pollution by making a simple change to their ordering systems.

Rather than keeping the status quo in which including all of these items is the default setting, these companies can change their systems to make no single-use additions the default setting for orders. In fact, Uber Eats has already done it!

By simply switching cutlery, condiments, napkins and straws to an opt-in only option and following up with the restaurants they partner with to make sure they comply, these companies can help restaurants save money and prevent mountains of pointless plastic trash at the same time.

Join us in calling on these companies to make a small change that would yield big results.

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To: Seamless, DoorDash, GrubHub, Delivery.com, Caviar, and Postmates
From: [Your Name]

Thank you for the important role you are playing in helping restaurants stay afloat and helping customers stay fed while staying safe during these difficult times.

However, we urge you to consider making a small change that can both save the restaurants you partner with money while also helping to reduce the alarming quantities of single-use plastic pollution being generated right now.

We request that you change your default food delivery ordering process to one that does not automatically include utensils, napkins, condiments, or straws - all items that the vast majority of customers have in abundance in their homes.

Instead, customers would specifically request such items when they place their order for delivery — “opting in” to receive the specific items they need. Similar to how customers choose exactly which toppings they want on their pizza, customers should also be able to opt in to exactly which utensils, napkins, condiments, or straws they want. This small change would reduce costs to restaurants and help to protect our environment from our rapidly growing plastic pollution crisis.

Once you've made this change, we urge you to reach out to all of the restaurants you partner with to ensure that they follow through in honoring customers' wishes regarding these largely unnecessary and unwanted items.

We are sure you are aware of the single-use plastic pollution problem in our country. From streets, rivers, oceans and beaches burdened by plastic bags, bottles, straws and more, to fenceline communities near heavily polluting oil refineries and ethylene cracker plants, to the communities living near landfills and incinerators, to the potential health effects of finding microplastics in our food and our bodies - these are all perpetuated by the use of single-use plastic foodware.

It is now estimated that 8.75 million metric tons of plastic enter our ocean each year from land-based sources, with a great majority of that waste generated in the consumption of food and beverages.

According to the UN Environment Report, only 9% of all plastics ever created have been recycled--with most still existing in their original form--whether buried in a landfill where they will take centuries to break down, or littered in our communities, parks, waterways, and oceans. Recycling can be helpful for some materials if done right, but it is not the panacea to our plastic pollution problem.

Some companies have introduced plant-based or bio-plastic products, often labeled as biodegradable or compostable, as an alternative to traditional plastics. However, claims that these products are compostable are misleading, as these plastics require a commercial composting facility for processing, which are rarely available. Regardless of compostability claims, bioplastics will generally be sent to the landfill or incinerated.

We call on you to show leadership by making your business’s default food delivery process such that customers must “opt in” to receive specific utensils, napkins, condiments, or straws.

Thank you for your consideration of this important issue.