Ordering takeaway from a favourite nearby restaurant is a popular option these days – it lets you spice up your life a bit while also supporting local restaurateurs during the crisis. But in the pandemic, takeaway means significantly more packaging waste for our environment. According to the German packaging market research institute Gesellschaft für Verpackungsmarktforschung, or GVM, which collected data on behalf of the country’s nature-conservation union NABU, single-use tableware and takeaway packaging accounted for 346,419 tonnes of waste in Germany in 2017. Other estimates point to the use of some 400,000 disposable food containers per hour in Germany – before the pandemic. And since the first shutdown, the use of food delivery services and single-use packaging has gone through the roof worldwide.
Zurab Natsvlishvili, Head of Global Sourcing, Near Food, at METRO AG, says: ‘The takeaway business has steadily increased in recent years, but during the Covid-19 crisis, we’ve seen double- and triple-digit growth in certain takeaway items. We expect it to remain at a high level, even after the pandemic has ended. We would of course welcome that, but at the same time, we’re concerned about the volume of plastic waste that the takeaway business often generates.’ In addition, the increased use of hygiene products and personal protective articles such as disinfectant and face masks has also produced more plastic waste. And the planet already had a massive plastic problem, even before the pandemic: in the EU alone, 60 million tonnes of plastic are produced every year, nearly 40% of which is used as packaging material.