Food delivery app and service company foodpanda gave us a pleasant surprise with the launch of their ‘Better Than Plastic’ campaign and meat-free Mondays for more environmentally friendly dining.
If you’re a regular on the food delivery apps, you may have noticed that around a year ago, some of them introduced a “Do you want cutlery?” button. While this may not have made a big difference to you, this was actually a pretty big deal. This one #LittleGreenStep resulted in people collectively saving over 1,000,000 sets of cutlery around the region. Which is why we got excited and want to celebrate the good that these companies are doing. The more we can celebrate, the more encouraged they will be to do more.
It has certainly been an exciting time for Singapore and food – from the launch of innovative foods like Beyond Meat and Just eggless eggs to bold moves by companies like foodpanda. As Singapore moves into the Year of Zero Waste, we’re excited to see more companies and individuals stepping up to be the change.
We had a chat with Laura Kantor, Head of Sustainability and Marketing at foodpanda, to understand more about their sustainability plans.
Psst…before we dive in, foodpanda is giving away zero waste freebies! Scroll down to the bottom for all the deets.
What is at the top of foodpanda’s sustainability agenda for 2019?
I’m really excited for what we have in store for 2019. There are three key pillars shaping our sustainability agenda this year – further reducing plastic usage, introducing bio-degradable packaging and minimising food waste. In January 2018, we piloted an opt-in cutlery function in Singapore, encouraging our customers to go without plastic cutlery with their orders. It was really well received and following its success, we rolled out the initiative across the region in Hong Kong, Thailand, and the Philippines, and saved over one million sets in the process. We want to make sustainability a fun and positive movement, rewarding our customers for making a difference, rather than lecturing. We are currently gifting all customers who opted out of plastic several times a $10 voucher as a token of appreciation.
While this has been a great result so far, there is still a lot of work to be done – and we plan to roll this out further across our APAC markets. Throughout January we are also giving out a range of reusable items to our customers with selected restaurant partners. The range includes a metal straw, a KeepCup, a metal cutlery set, and a cotton tote bag.
This year is the ‘year of zero waste’ for Singapore. How do you think Singaporeans & residents can contribute to the country’s quest to be a zero-waste nation?
I fully support Singapore’s mission to become a zero-waste nation. To be able to positively contribute to this educational movement, we are working with industry bodies, including NEA as well as organisations like WWF. Just as an example, I have been invited by the NEA to join a talk on how the F&B industry can help to significantly reduce plastic wastage.
I think that the responsibility to make this vision a reality lies with both consumers and corporates alike. Just small steps can make the world of difference. Take for example, the plastic holder that we get with our morning coffee. They are so unnecessary! If everyone started saying no to this – that in itself would be a huge feat. Other easy steps include saying no to straws with drinks, bringing along a reusable cup for coffee or even a Tupperware for lunch. If caught short without these items, then even just asking for your coffee or plastic container without a lid, will help limit plastic waste. It’s great to see that some restaurants are now rewarding customers for being environmentally conscious, for instance, SaladStop and Noodfood.
What have been some of the most rewarding and most challenging parts of implementing foodpanda’s sustainability initiatives?
Being able to see the opt-in cutlery initiative taking off the way it has is definitely one of the most rewarding aspects of foodpanda’s sustainability push. It is such a simple but yet impactful initiative – we were even invited to share our experience at last year’s PlastiCity SG conference, and among the attendees were government ministers. It is an honour to be recognised for our small role in Singapore’s push to become a zero-waste nation. It is even more humbling to see that other players in the local food delivery industry have also followed in our footsteps.
As much success as we’ve experienced with the opt-in cutlery initiative, there were some challenges that we are still working to overcome and eliminate. For instance, some of our suppliers and consumers are still not 100% clued up being plastic-free, which is why education continues to be a key for us. There has been a number of times that we’ve purchased our range of sustainable products and they arrived in individually wrapped plastic packs, which defeats the purpose of reducing our plastic usage. More recently, we held a block party on Amoy Street, Bites & Vibes, which was intended to be a plastic-free event but on the actual day, we had to remove plastic straws and cutlery that some restaurants brought along. Brands have a responsibility to educate partners on this and we do this on an ongoing basis to ensure that the entire cycle is aware of the role we each have to play.
We were excited to read about the #fpMeatFreeMondays launch! How has the reaction to this been?
Even though we’ve only just launched the #fpMeatFreeMondays, we’ve already seen very positive feedback from our customers. It’s great to see that more people in Singapore are becoming aware of the impact on the environment and are more conscious about their food choices.
Do you think we can move towards a fully reusable system for foodpanda in Singapore?
This is absolutely our end goal. But Rome wasn’t built in a day! I think our key focus now is to introduce small and progressive initiatives while educating customers and partners, so we can move towards that vision. A lot of people might get stuck thinking of the one big solution, but smaller, relatively easy-to-implement initiatives can already have such a significant impact, for example, our opt-in of plastic cutlery button!
Zero Waste Freebies!
To help customers reduce the use of disposable plastics, foodpanda is giving away a range of reusable items until the end of January with orders from Jewel Coffee, SaladStop!, Boost Juice and A Poke Theory. Goodies include a metal straws to KeepCups, to a metal cutlery set. There are minimum orders and you can get more details here.
We love celebrating the small wins and #LittleGreenSteps at Green Is The New Black and look forward to seeing more companies bringing sustainability front and forward to their operations, customers and suppliers. We’re all in this together! If you enjoyed this, find out more about Singapore’s year of Zero Waste here.