From 18 April, Uber Eats customers in Central London have been given the option to order their takeaway in reusable containers and easily return them – all in a bid to tackle single-use packaging.
Bringing together various businesses, the project aims to test and measure how localised doorstep at-home collections of reusable packaging can increase the uptake of reuse systems and improve convenience.
The system has been developed to make it as easy and convenient as possible for people to take part. When placing their orders, Uber Eats customers can opt-in to receive their food in reusable packaging. Once they’ve enjoyed their meals, all they need to do is scan a QR code, select a day for collection (from as early as next day to no later than 3 weeks later), give the containers a simple rinse and await collection. All collections are low or no emissions, made by couriers using bikes, electric cars or vans.
The trial will run for six months with a group of restaurant partners1 on the food delivery app Uber Eats and will be managed by Again, a reusable packaging supply chain company. Participating restaurants are located withing a 5km radius of the Again facility in Kennington Park.
Various incentives will be tested throughout the trial to measure what motivates customers to engage with reusables (opt-in rate) and what motivates them to return the packaging (return rate).
The trial is one of six winning projects chosen by the £1.4 million Bring It Back Fund launched by Hubbub and Starbucks to fund trial innovative new solutions and systems for sustainable packaging in the food and beverage industry.
Matt Kennedy, Founder & CEO at Again said: “Today, reusable packaging is too inconvenient for everyday customers. We’re excited to be partnering with the Bring it Back Fund to explore how we can make it really simple for customers to return packaging by trialling a new logistic service that will collect directly from customers’ doors. As we look ahead to 2030, we see that household collections will pay will play a pivotal role in the scale-up of reusable packaging. Once vehicles are collecting from households, new products, new retailers and new meal delivery platforms are incremental. We are creating an exciting future of low-cost household takeback for all products.”
Development of the Bring It Back Fund was informed by insights from a recent survey from Hubbub2 that appears to show a clear public appetite to cut down on single-use plastics, with 67% of people saying they want to reduce the amount of single-use packaging they use when buying food and drink products and 73% think more needs to be done to make it easier to use reusable alternatives.
Gavin Ellis, Director and Co-founder of Hubbub said: “This trial is a pioneering new approach to challenge single-use packaging in the food and drink sector. We are really pleased to see this collaboration between retailers, delivery apps, logistics and tech to bring convenience to customers wanting to do their bit.
“By integrating the reuse option into a delivery app used by many households and by offering doorstep collections, we hope to see significant uptake of reusable takeaway packaging. The trial will help create a better understanding of what works and what doesn’t at a local level, and hopefully lead to wider roll out of this reuse system across more businesses and areas.”
Alex Rayner, General Manager at Starbucks UK, comments: “We are really proud that Again is receiving funding for such an important reuse initiative and we look forward to seeing how their trial progresses. We’ve introduced an array of different reusable activations over the years to test and trial new ways to encourage reuse. Our latest work with Hubbub, the Bring It Back Fund, builds on our reusables work, aiming to find new ways to inspire people and our customers to choose to reuse. It is important for us as a company that we continue to drive industry-wide innovation, as we work to increase reusability and inspire greater reusables uptake in local communities across the UK. This forms part of our long-term goal to reduce waste and become a resource positive company.”
Matthew Price, Uber Eats General Manager, UK and Ireland said: “This pilot aims to make reusable packing more accessible for customers and restaurants alike. We know consumers care about the impact that their decisions have on the environment, and we are delighted to be part of this innovative trial which is another step in our mission to do our part in helping the food delivery ecosystem transition to a cleaner and greener future.”
 Participating restaurants include: Ritto’s, The Pepper Tree, Donburi & Co, Iro Sushi, Capital Kebab Restaurant, Shawarma Hut, and Viet Quan
 Censuswide surveyed a nationally representative sample of 3,012 UK residents from 4 – 7 April 2022