The Problem

Mass production of plastics, which began just 6 decades ago, has accelerated so rapidly that it has created 8.3 billion metrics tons of waste - most of disposable products that end up as trash & 8 million metric tons of plastic currently ending up in the ocean every year. If present trends continue, by 2050, there will be more plastic ocean than fish (by weight). Plastic production is set to double in the next 20 years & quadruple by 2050. Currently, packaging represents 26% of the total volume of plastics used, but it is expected to reach 44% in the next 10 years. Single-use packaging propels oil & gas extraction, produces massive quantities of greenhouse gases, & toxifies our food.


E-commerce is helping to drive the increase in packaging. It has evolved in the last 20 years from a new idea into a $300 billion industry. Online ordering of food currently comprises 30% of sales & is expected to reach 65%. Fueled by new technologies, companies like Just Eat, Delivery Hero, Food Panda, Grub Hub. Deliveroo, and UberEats offer access to numerous restaurants through online portals. There are over 150 meal kit startups in the U.S. alone. Along with increases in plastic wraps & pouches, these kits contain ice packs weighing 6 pounds each filled with non-recyclable gel. Municipal waste infrastructure is inundated with delivery-related trash.

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The Solution

Working with leaders in each e-commerce delivery sector (consumer goods, meal delivery, & meal kit delivery), this project will develop greenhouse gas & waste reduction calculators to use them in piloting:

  • Disposable packaging minimization
  • Reusable packaging delivery systems
  • Producer take-back of all non-reusable packaging for recycling.

In the first two years, we will launch pilot projects with 3 companies to adopt & meet this goals:

  1. Delivery 50% of consumer goods & food in reusable packaging by 2022
  2. Non-reusable packaging will be 100% recyclable in the locality where delivered, or take-back provided
  3. Each company will establish a take-back program for reusables & packaging to be recycled.

Reducing packaging saves businesses money while reducing waste & carbon emissions. By measuring these benefits, we can begin to revolutionize the current delivery models that are based on disposable packaging. With companies like Amazon moving toward using their own delivery trucks, & the potential for others to share delivery services, companies can deliver & take back reusable & recyclable packaging through proven reverse-logistic models. Many food delivery companies enjoy high customer loyalty (where repeat customers represent 70% or more of a customer base) with the ability to market themselves as green by providing a sustainably responsible system.


BAN List 2.0

Better Alternatives Now is a collaborative report naming the worst polluting plastic products while highlighting sustainable alternatives.

Packaging Policy

We are working on state and local policy solutions where companies take responsibility for packaging waste.