Brand Purpose Greenwashing Cop26

How Foodpanda is addressing the plastic waste crisis


By Shawn Lim, Reporter, Asia Pacific

November 10, 2021 | 5 min read

8m tonnes of plastic waste enter the world’s oceans every year, and with at least 33% being dumped or burned, plastic pollution is at crisis levels. The Drum finds out how Foodpanda is addressing its role in the issue.

Brand marketers have a crucial role in helping to limit the impact of climate change, with some leaders in the industry staying ahead of the curve by driving awareness and action internally and with their clients.

A BBC study found consumers are holding brands accountable for their commitments when it comes to sustainability. It found 81% agree that demonstrating a commitment to sustainability adds value to a brand, and 79% say sustainable practices and commitments are an important consideration when making purchase decisions.

One of the brands investing in sustainability is food delivery platform Foodpanda, whose parent company Delivery Hero launched its global Sustainable Packaging Programme in July, ahead of the UN’s Climate Change Conference 2020, which is currently under way in Glasgow, Scotland.

This comes after the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) discovered 8m tonnes of plastic waste enter the world’s oceans every year, with at least 33% of plastic waste being mismanaged globally today through open dumping or burning.

This program is being piloted across eight countries globally, including Singapore and Hong Kong in APAC through the Foodpanda app. It aims to provide local restaurants with 100% plant-based and perfluoroalkoxy-alkanes (PFAS) free alternatives to plastic packaging.

This new sustainable packaging is a significant step in reducing plastic waste, aligned with Delivery Hero’s goals of becoming carbon neutral globally by the end of 2021. Following its commitment to climate protection efforts, Delivery Hero is exploring emission reduction to narrow its carbon footprint.

Evelyn Tay, vice-president for communications, public affairs and sustainability at Foodpanda, explains sustainability is a key part of the brand’s purpose-driven business model, and its duty as a food and grocery delivery platform in Asia to lead by example.

For instance, Foodpanda was one of the first food delivery platforms that introduced the default cutlery opt-out feature across the region in December 2017, and Tay claims Foodpanda has since saved more than 200m pieces of plastic packaging across Asia.

“Sustainability is embedded in various aspects of our business, right down to in-app products and design. With that, we are encouraging our community of customers, riders and merchants to take actionable steps toward greater sustainability through the programs below,” Tay explains.

“For our customers, we provide reusable packaging options in partnership with service providers in markets such as Singapore (via Barepack and Muuse) and Taiwan (via local NGOs and municipal governments).

“We have also launched the world’s first home delivery of cultured meat in partnership with Eat Just to make cultured meats more easily accessible for customers in Singapore and make meat-free alternatives such as Quorn, Beyond Meats and Singapore’s locally produced OmniMeat available via our Pandamart cloud stores.”

Foodpanda has also made it easier for customers to choose sustainable options by launching Meat Free Mondays in January 2019, committed to offering free delivery on vegan and vegetarian restaurants.

In addition, the platform is highlighting green merchants on Foodpanda shops by working in partnership with local non-governmental organization RE-THINK in Taiwan on identifying green merchants to not only provide advice on how they can be more sustainable, but also help customers easily identify and support green merchants.

“In Taiwan, Foodpanda also runs vendor education programs on eco-friendly packaging and waste-free options to encourage more sustainable F&B business practices, and certifying ‘green merchants’ to make it easier for customers to support more sustainable businesses,” explains Tay.

Recent research by Trustpilot found that consumers turn to social media (46%), friends and family (45%) and user-generated review websites (43%) to find out independent information about a brand’s honesty, including its position on social, political and environmental issues before making purchasing decisions.

In contrast, 32% of consumers said they would seek out this information from mainstream media such as TV and radio.

Tay says fundamentally Foodpanda believes that sustainability requires an all-of-platform approach. In addition to communicating these initiatives through in-app notices, media and social media channels, the platform encourages users to take action and create a behavioral change by making it easier to choose sustainable options.

Being action-oriented in its sustainability initiatives is also working, she adds, as across its various initiatives Foodpanda has seen a great response from its customers, merchant partners and even rider partners.

“Our partnerships with Barepack and Muuse in Singapore have been very successful, as delivery and pick-up orders using recyclable or reusable packaging more than tripled in the past year. Orders of cultured meat menu via our partnership with Eat Just have also been promising, with items being sold out almost every day.

“As Foodpanda becomes an essential everyday partner for customers across the region, we recognize the unique opportunity and responsibility we have in shaping our environmental and social impact while doing what we do best – delivering food and more.”

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