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Changes Proposed to Take ‘Guilt’ out of Australian Food Delivery

Thousands of Australian restaurants will be asked to ditch plastic containers and adopt sustainable food packaging in a move by Uber to cut waste and take the “guilt” out of ordering food deliveries.

The changes to the Uber Eats platform are expected to roll out over the next three years, with the company outlining its goal to cut 80 percent of “unnecessary plastic waste” by 2025.

The tech giant revealed the green targets for its Uber Eats platform at an event in London, including plans to eliminate petrol-powered delivery vehicles from the service by 2040.

Uber chief executive Dara Khosrowshahi said the changes were designed to bring the company’s food delivery service into line with its rideshare arm and its target to achieve net-zero emissions by 2040.

“Getting your food is great on demand but getting it in plastic containers is not so great,” Khosrowshahi said.

“This, I have to tell you, is going to be very, very difficult.

“Tackling plastics and waste is a whole new ball game for us.”

Khosrowshahi said the company planned to work with partners, including the World Wildlife Fund, to create guidelines for reusable, recyclable or compostable food packaging.

The eco-friendly items would need to be adopted by more than 50,000 restaurants that have partnered with Uber Eats in Australia and New Zealand, with Uber aiming to replace plastic packaging completely by 2030.

Uber delivery senior vice-president Pierre-Dimitri Gore-Coty said the company’s research showed seven in 10 users wanted restaurants to use sustainable packaging.

“I’m willing to bet that more and more consumers will feel more and more guilty about using services like Uber Eats if we are not able to fundamentally improve the sustainability footprint of our services,” Gore-Coty said.

“You will see them put their money where their mouth is in which restaurants they decide to pick and which app they decide to use.”

Uber would test this idea by allowing some users to search for restaurants that use eco-friendly packaging, Gore-Coty said.

A trial will start this week for users in London, Paris, New York, San Francisco, Amsterdam and Taipei.

Gore-Coty said the tech firm would also have to work closely with suppliers to lower the cost of eco-friendly packaging, which currently commanded 30 to 40 percent more than the cheapest plastic alternatives and could potentially raise prices.

Other changes to Uber Eats include a target for all deliveries to be made in electric vehicles by 2040 in what could be a bigger change for drivers.

Uber Eats accepts vehicles up to 33 years of age to be used on its platform, while rideshare drivers must use a vehicle less than 15 years of age.

The changes will also follow a difficult time for food-delivery services in Australia after start-up Milkrun and CoLab both stopped operating in April and after meal-delivery giant Deliveroo collapsed in November 2022.

*The reporter travelled to London as a guest of Uber.

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