The takeaway platform does not need tableware options to be embarrassed, and merchants are worried about being given bad reviews.

  During the "meal" period of a restaurant, takeaways waiting for "departure" are filled with the desk Photographer/Intern, Huang Jiating

  The scale of the Internet catering market has doubled, and the problem of disposable tableware pollution is also very serious. It is reported that Meituan and, two major takeaway platforms in China, have launched "Qingshan Plan" and "Blue Planet Plan" environmental protection plans respectively. However, some people believe that in dealing with the problem of takeaway waste, the takeaway platform can play a limited role. In addition, catering companies, disposable tableware manufacturers, and consumers should share the corresponding responsibilities to improve the environmental protection problems caused by takeaway lunch boxes.

  Big data shows that 3 out of every 10 Chinese people are takeout users, generating more than 20 million takeaways every day. In the next ten years, the socialization, intensification and industrialization of kitchens will see tremendous development, and the problem of disposable tableware pollution will also come.


  How much takeaway waste can be generated every day?

  At around 11:30 noon, the deliveryman Xiao Liu hurried into a commercial building at Wudaokou. He didn’t have time to wait for the elevator, so he chose to climb the stairs to pick up the food at the gourmet food stall on the third floor. At this time, in the stairwell leading to the food stall, there were already many delivery guys running up and down like meteors, and the atmosphere was quite tense.

  The peak delivery period is called "rice mouth" by the delivery brothers. In the delivery hotspot – a university campus, during the "rice mouth" period, the delivery frequency of a delivery brother can reach 4 to 5 times, and the order volume for one delivery is about 4 to 5 copies. In terms of takeaway restaurants, according to the observation of the Beijing Youth Daily reporter, taking the rice noodle takeaway as an example, the order volume during the "rice mouth" period is 16 to 25 copies. The standard package includes a pair of chopsticks, a plastic spoon, a plastic round bowl, a plastic round bowl lid, and a plastic bag. If the user’s order requires soy sauce, vinegar, or chili peppers, another 3 to 5 plastic bags will be generated. According to the statistics of standard orders, a "rice noodle takeaway" will generate 16 to 25 meals of lunch box waste.

  In this food stall, there are a total of 14 merchants, each with an order volume of about 20 to 50 copies. Taking each standard lunch box as an example, the food stall produces 840 to 2,100 fast food lunch boxes in one "meal".

  In contrast, the number of takeout orders from large chain restaurants is even more impressive. According to the owner of a restaurant chain specializing in northwestern flavors: "We have about 4.40 million takeout orders a year. According to the average order of four lunch boxes, we should use 17 million lunch boxes a year." The owner admitted that for restaurants, the most concerned is how to ensure that takeout is delivered to customers within 25 minutes to an hour, and that the color, aroma, taste and shape of the dish are basically unchanged when it comes out of the pot. "We have also tried paper lunch boxes," he said. "But Chinese food and beverage forms are particularly rich and complex, and the cartons with soup and water do not penetrate for more than a few minutes. It cannot be achieved in an hour."

  Data from Xinhua News Agency: Our country has more than 20 million takeaways every day. But the amount of waste generated is also worrying. The used lunch boxes are stacked up enough to go three and a half times from the earth to the International Space Station, and the plastic bags can cover 168 football fields.

  current situation

  The rapid development of takeout brings garbage problems

  According to the "China Plastic Products Industry Production and Marketing Demand and Investment Forecast Analysis Report", the cumulative output of plastic products in our country 30.47 million tons in January-May 2017, with a cumulative increase of 3.8%. The growth of plastic products is inseparable from the rise and development of emerging industries such as takeaway. At the "Takeaway Food Packaging Safety and Environmental Protection Seminar" held recently, Zhou Lili, a senior engineer in the comprehensive business department of the China Plastics Processing Industry Association, introduced that plastic products account for a large proportion of disposable tableware. China’s current total amount of disposable tableware plastics belongs to a large consumer group in the world. But in fact, if the per capita is calculated, we are not the largest consumer, but the United States should be the largest consumer.

  Just how big the Chinese takeout market is can be seen by looking at the data released by the two major takeout platforms.

  Meituan comments on big data show that the national takeaway industry has developed rapidly in 2016: in 2016, the overall transaction volume of the takeaway industry reached 130 billion, it is expected to break through 200 billion in 2017, and it will climb to 300 billion scale in 2018. From the user perspective, 3 out of every 10 Chinese people are takeaway users. expects the takeaway market to break through 700 billion in 2020.

  According to the analysis, the top reasons why Chinese users choose online takeaway are busy with work and no time to cook, unwilling to cook at home, preferential activities for takeaway, delicious meals for takeaway, bad weather, and lifestyle habits. Among them, the fast pace of work and time constraints are the main reasons for users to order takeaway. 42.7% of users choose takeaway to solve work meals, and 21.8% of users are unwilling to cook at home.


  The "no utensils required" option doesn’t work well

  Takeaway food delivery companies are very concerned about the problem of tableware waste. Recently, Meituan Dianping and have started to trial the "no tableware" service, which is to add the "no tableware" option on the APP order page, where the tableware refers to disposable chopsticks. It is understood that Meituan Takeaway launched the "Qingshan Plan" this year, establishing the post of chief environmental protection officer to encourage customer engagement in "bring your own tableware" activities and reduce the use of disposable tableware such as chopsticks and napkins. At the same time, for catering companies that promise to use "environmentally friendly lunch box packaging", light up the environmental protection logo and add screening items. Consumers can screen with one click and invite consumers and professional organizations to supervise catering companies that promise to use "environmentally friendly lunch box packaging".

  This year, launched the "Blue Planet" program, adding a "no tableware" note option on the order confirmation page of the new version of the APP, and providing points rewards for users who choose "no tableware". The points mall will open an environmental protection area for users to use points to claim desert public welfare forests and redeem environmentally friendly shopping bags. At present, has reached preliminary cooperation intentions with well-known environmental protection organizations such as the Alxa SEE Foundation.

  But it is understood that the trial effect is not very satisfactory. Some merchants would rather spend time and effort on diners’ taste preferences for fear of making mistakes, such as less sugar, less oil, no cilantro, etc., but when it comes to the question of whether to put chopsticks, they are "rather trusting them than not trusting them". "What if the customer gives me a bad review? I have to send someone to deliver it again, and the labor cost has risen again."

  Some analysts believe that in dealing with the problem of takeaway waste, the takeaway platform can play a limited role. Only catering companies that provide takeaway services, manufacturers of disposable tableware, and consumers can assume corresponding responsibilities, and all parties can work together to improve the current environmental protection problems caused by takeaway lunch boxes.

  expert opinion

  Waste tableware should be recycled

  Zhou Lili, a senior engineer in the comprehensive business department of the China Plastics Processing Industry Association, pointed out that plastic products are a relatively contradictory product, which facilitates our lives, but also brings environmental protection problems. Zhou Lili suggested that the relevant departments formulate a rule on how to recycle these discarded catering utensils, how to regenerate them, and how to manage them well. "We also recommend centralized inspections in some key regions and setting up some recycling points. Of course, this cost should be based on the production enterprises, distributors, and the model of white polystyrene lunch boxes. This is a contribution to environmental protection. In addition, we still recommend using degradable materials as much as possible in the future when conditions are available."

  Meng Suhe, chairperson of the Chinese Society of Food Science and Technology, said that in terms of the safety and environmental protection of takeaway lunch boxes, catering platforms should actively formulate entry thresholds, guide catering enterprises to choose qualified, safe and environmentally friendly lunch box products, and eliminate catering enterprises that do not pay attention to environmental protection and safety. For lunch box manufacturers, Meng Suhe believes that due to the characteristics of Chinese cooking and consumption, it is necessary to actively produce lunch box products suitable for Chinese takeaway use, and ensure their environmental protection attributes and product quality.

  Shang Guiqin, director of the National Key Laboratory of Food Contact Materials (Changzhou), believes that food delivery companies can formulate industry standards for the fast food industry, unify the requirements of lunch box standards, select manufacturers and suppliers that can meet the standards, and make environmental protection choices from the perspective of social responsibility.

  Financial Observation

  Just by "advertising"

  It is difficult to solve the problem in the short term

  The pollution problem of fast food boxes has recently become a hot topic of public opinion. Experts say that the amount of plastic used in the United States far exceeds that of our country, but the public opinion in the United States is not hot about pollution. From a certain perspective, our citizens’ concern for environmental protection has made the fastest progress in the world.

  It is commendable that the two food delivery companies have taken the lead in environmental protection measures and found ways to remind users to appropriately reduce the use of disposable dining products. These efforts have not only reduced the pollution of disposable tableware in our country, but also made the corporate culture and corporate image of two responsible large enterprises.

  In the next ten years, the socialization, intensification, and industrialization of kitchens will see tremendous development, and the problem of disposable tableware pollution will also develop rapidly. There is no time to wait. If we only rely on the publicity of these enterprises, we will definitely not be able to solve such a huge social problem in the short term.

  According to, although the "no tableware" option is designed on the APP, and some people do check this option often, many merchants still provide tableware for each takeaway. The reason is that it is very troublesome to selectively remove some tableware from the order, and the second is that if there is a mistake, the customer’s request for supplementary tableware will increase the cost. Also, in case the customer reneges, he dares not not to send supplementary tableware. So this environmental protection measure worth boasting has become a decoration.

  Therefore, to solve the problem of white waste, we must first rely on the consciousness of the people. How to quickly improve the awareness of the people’s environmental protection is the key to the problem. In fact, without the promotion of these companies, everyone who has the habit of ordering takeout frequently will definitely be able to express a lot of profound insights on environmental protection issues. But whether they are willing to do it by themselves, and whether they are willing to exchange their own little trouble for a greater improvement in the living environment of the whole country’s citizens is another question.

  Our reporter, Zhao Xinpei, intern, Huang Jiating