Love takeaways, but hate the all the packaging waste? Well, you’re in luck. There’s now an app to help you find out which restaurants use sustainable packaging for takeout and deliveries. Users even report back on the types of materials used, from whether it’s biodegradable, recyclable or reusable.
While takeaway and online food deliveries were already popular before the pandemic, it’s now a full-blown sensation. Thanks to Covid-19, food delivery apps have seen sales double over the past year. Now, almost all of us are a little bit addicted, but many are also getting concerned about the waste that’s piling up.
In Hong Kong alone, hungry diners are now churning through 100 million pieces of single-use plastic takeaway items every single week.
That’s where the app Jybe comes in. Co-founded by Paul Kradin, Steve Bauerfeind, Kevin Diamond, and Alison Diamond, the app was first launched in late 2020 to give consumers the information they need to choose wisely when it comes to their takeaway food orders.
Jybe launched as the first web and mobile app that aggregates restaurant reviews based on their use of sustainable takeaway and delivery packaging. It works a lot like other review-based platforms, such as Zomato or TripAdvisor, but simply focuses on whether restaurants are offering eco-friendly packaging materials like biodegradable or recyclable containers.
Even better, some might even offer circular options like reusable cups or boxes, as a truly zero-waste takeaway solution.
“Information leads to better choices, and choice is power for consumers who want their purchases to reflect their social values,” says the company, which has since its launch expanded from its initial 400 listings within Los Angeles to cover the San Francisco Bay Area, Portland, Seattle, Denver, and Boulder.
Encouraging sustainable packaging shift in F&B
More than helping eco-conscious consumers get their sustainable takeout fix, the platform wants to push businesses to do better—the more sustainable the eatery, the more it gets promoted on the platform.
It ranks restaurants based on what it calls a “Sustainability Bill of Rights”, whereby restaurants that use reusables, aluminium, paper, glass, and biodegradables score establishments better points than those that still use fossil fuel-based plastics. Meanwhile, restaurants that use styrofoam, bioplastics, or “compostable” materials (backyard compostable excluded) aren’t encouraged.
Jybe says the reason is that many packaging products labelled as bioplastics or compostable aren’t what they seem. “Items sold as compostable almost always require the use of an industrial composting facility,” says the company. “Bioplastic typically requires 3-6 months to break down—an energy-intensive process available in limited locations.”
This information is all available on Jybe’s website and mobile app, to help educate both consumers and businesses about the true sustainability of different packaging materials. Jybe says that aside from running a review platform, it will “gladly consult” restaurants that want to get more guidance on all the choices out there and has put forward a “Provider Playbook” for the F&B industry.
Another startup making it easier for businesses to switch to sustainable alternatives is SourceGreenPackaging, a newly launched Hong Kong-based platform offering a B2B marketplace for brands to source safe, certified eco-friendly foodware and other packaging products.
Takeaway waste on the rise
For co-founder and CEO Alison Diamond, it’s now more important than ever for both individuals and businesses to take part in reducing takeaway packaging, with the future of the restaurant industry set to move increasingly online and delivery-based.
“The restaurant industry in the era of the global pandemic looks completely different, as restaurants turn to takeout and delivery to maintain business and serve customers. With that comes an increase in takeout packaging.”
In fact, recent research shows that nearly half of all ocean plastic litter can be attributed to just four items—all of them single-use takeaway food packaging.
Diamond says the ultimate goal of Jybe is to “educate diners and restaurants alike and lead a cultural shift on par with reusable supermarket shopping bags or the elimination of plastic straws.”
And polls show that consumers do want to make the right choice too—they just need a bit of help. One study found that the majority of shoppers are specifically looking for digital tools like Jybe to assist them in making purchases that are aligned with their environmental and social values.
Co-founder and COO Paul Kradin says: “If this pandemic has taught us anything, it’s that our individual actions can have a powerful effect on the well-being of our entire community. Jybe empowers individuals to do just that.”
Interested in more sustainable apps? Read about all the latest online tools for climate and health here.
Lead image courtesy of Jybe.