Myself and three friends got inspired after watching the War on Waste series to try to experiment with an intervention that would reduce single-use plastic waste; specifically, single-use takeaway containers.
Our project is the implementation of a reusable food container system, similar to the systems that currently operate in Portland and San Francisco in the United States (by the organisation GoBox), and at colleges all around US (e.g. Harvard, Berkeley), but in an Australian context.
The way the scheme practically operates is that a participating restaurant serves takeaway food in one of our reusable containers, the customer eats it there, or takes it up to their office, and when they're done eating they drop the box in a designated drop box (placed next to ordinary bins). The boxes are collecting by a third party, returned to the restaurants who wash the containers, and then reuse them. They can be used up to 500 times. Once they break, they can be placed in the regular recycling - closing the loop of materials.
We've done extensive research and the existing overseas schemes have been shown to reduce the amount of waste going to landfill and overall greenhouse gas emissions, compared to any single-use alternative, including compostable containers. We're currently in the process of running a Life Cycle Analysis to analyse the environmental footprint of using the boxes in Australia, but based on our preliminary research we expect them to still be radically more environmentally friendly than any single-use alternative!
We have been speaking to a number of local restaurants to partner and a run a pilot, including Cornersmith, Sumo Salad, Rose Bay Farmers Markets, Will & Co, Tokyo Tina (in Melbourne) and more. We have found that prospective partners are very keen to participate, but initial costs are a concern (since the model is yet to have been used in Australia).
Funded by Sydney (October 2017)