Recent surveys have revealed that as more of us Brits eat our lunch on the go, the amount of packaging waste produced as a result has reached a staggering 11 billion items a year, most of which is not recycled.
People are buying takeaway and fast food lunches more than they did 5 years ago; hardly surprising given the increase in delivery services, such as Deliveroo and Uber Eats, as well as more restaurants offering takeaway services. Allied to this, there are also a greater number of ‘healthier’ food options available to us on the high street than there was 5 years ago. The rise of gluten-free, vegan, vegetarian and dairy-free options has prompted more and more of us to shun our lunch boxes and turn to the high street for our lunch.
A survey of more than 1,200 workers revealed that the average person purchasing lunch on the go bought 4 packaged items; 76% of people bought a main lunch item such as a boxed sandwich or salad, 70% purchased a packet of crisps or another snack and 65% picked up a napkin. Combined, these items create massive amounts of waste and although more outlets are making a conscious effort to use less packaging or a higher proportion of items that are sustainable and recyclable, the majority is made from mixed materials and cannot be recycled. A person who regularly buys food on the go generates 276 pieces of rubbish per year as a result.
More than a quarter of people interviewed said they were “too busy to make their own lunch”; therefore, buying food on the go is considered “far more convenient”, and as a result, Britons are spending £13.6 billion every year on takeaway food.
In order to mitigate the increasing volumes of damaging packaging waste on the environment, businesses are in a position now to replace the non-recyclable waste they produce by offering sustainable, eco-friendly alternatives. Some food outlets have also created their own recycling schemes for items like plastic water bottles and many also allow shoppers to bring their own drink containers for takeaway coffee. But there is still a long way to go to ensure product shelf life and longevity is achieved in an eco-friendly and sustainable way. New technology will undoubtedly play a role in achieving this.
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