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Just Eat Takeaway: Sustainable Food Packaging
Delivering on the promise of safe and sustainable single-use food packaging

As one of the frontrunners in the meal delivery sector, Just Eat Takeaway (JET) aims to deliver food to their consumers with sustainability in mind.  As part of their ambition to reduce the impact of single-use plastic packaging in the food delivery sector, JET asked Ecomatters to conduct an environmental sustainability and regulatory screening on alternatives to plastic single-use food packaging.

How it started

Improving the packaging used to deliver food to homes is one of the most impactful ways to minimize the environmental impact of  JET’s operations, even though it is an indirect part of the supply chain. As part of their efforts to guide restaurants towards using more sustainable single-use packaging options, JET already has a sustainable food packaging range, which it sells through a webshop.

However, selecting new sustainable food packaging alternatives to include within JET’s branded range is not so straightforward. For example, although suppliers of packaging material offer sustainable alternatives, they may not always share information about the chemical composition or long-term impacts of their solutions. Furthermore, packaging alternatives produced from different materials are hard to compare because each material brings along different advantages and environmental challenges.

What Ecomatters did

To guide JET in finding sustainable food packaging alternatives, Ecomatters has analysed the main potential environmental challenges (or advantages) that apply to fossil plastics-based and biobased packaging. This required taking a holistic perspective and looking at the full life cycle of the packaging. From raw material sourcing aspects to end-of-life treatment options such as recycling and biodegradability. Additionally, since the project is about food packaging, Ecomatters executed a dedicated analysis of the main regulatory obligations for Food Contact Materials (FCM). This included a list of Substances of Concern to screen for.

The result

Ecomatters has consolidated the environmental sustainability analysis in actionable evaluation forms for packaging alternatives from different materials:

  1. fossil plastic-based
  2. bioplastic-based
  3. paper-based
  4. wood-based

Each form covers a wide array of questions and complementary background information about environmental characteristics specifically relevant for the material in question.

To illustrate the usage of the evaluation forms, Ecomatters conducted a screening analysis of three biobased packaging alternatives that JET was interested in. This provided JET not only with valuable insights about the sustainability of the three products, but also with a blueprint on how they can directly use the evaluation forms to do a fast and effective qualitative screening on potential sustainability matters for packaging alternatives.

The forms and the list of Substances of Concern will be used by JET to better screen potential suppliers of branded packaging for the webshop.

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