Do You Have a Kitchen Drawer Full Of Plastic Forks And Napkins From Delivery?

The Lempert Report
December 21, 2020

The pandemic has fueled unpatrolled growth in foodservice delivery – no question – which has compounded the problem even further.

I do. I can’t bear to throw them away – and I never use them. The napkins are too flimsy and small, the cutlery barely strong enough to cut my food. So why even include them? The pandemic has fueled unpatrolled growth in foodservice delivery – no question – which has compounded the problem even further.  The International Solid Waste Association estimates that the use of single-use plastics may have grown 250-300% during the pandemic; and most of that is winding up in landfills. Now there are groups fighting this phenomenon and hopefully waking up consumers and companies to the disaster-in-making. #CutOutCutlery launched in 2019 by Habits of Waste and has already convinced Uber Eats (in September 2019) and Postmates (in October 2019) to now require customers to request cutlery, to discourage restaurants from automatically including the plastic-wrapped disposable utensils in every order. Habits of Waste was founded by Sheila Morovati, here in Malibu California, as she became frustrated that every time she ordered a beverage alongside it came a single-use plastic straw that she never used.

Postmates reported to Habits of Waste that they estimate they have already stopped 122 million packs of cutlery from entering the waste stream since making the switch a little more than a year ago.  Habits of Waste estimates that only 25% of delivery customers choose to receive cutlery.

“People prefer to eat with heavier utensils, they’re ordering in and they don’t want the cutlery, and it’s an unfortunate thing to go out in a waste steam,” she said. “In Los Angeles, they see a lot of plastic containers in the trash but not much cutlery because it sits in people’s drawers since they feel too guilty to throw It away.” Yup, that’s me.

#CutOutCutlery has also partnered with BuzzFeed to put out a video of celebrity endorsements about combatting plastic waste in food delivery and takeout, with appearances from Laura Dern and Adam Devine.

JYBE is a new app that launched in September in the San Francisco and Los Angeles regions that helps customers find restaurants with green-friendly takeout and delivery policies and ranks those restaurants higher based on offering other options including biodegradable or reusable containers. The app has about  4,100 monthly active users and with more than 40,000 restaurants on their platform, and will be expanding to Portland, Ore.; Seattle; Austin; and Denver/Boulder, Colo. on Jan. 1, 2021.

Next time you order delivery, tell them to “hold” the utensils.