- Uber Eats is partnering with DeliverZero to launch a pilot program in New York City that offers customers reusable container options when ordering food delivery from more than 80 participating restaurants.
- Customers can order as usual via mobile app or online and pay a $1 fee to add reusable packaging to their order. DeliverZero will send the customers a text message with instructions for returning the reusable containers to a participating store or scheduling a DeliverZero pickup at no extra charge.
- This is Uber Eats’ first reuse pilot in the U.S., but it has similar programs globally. Earlier this month, Uber Eats launched a reusable container food delivery program in London with partner Again.
Reusable containers are gaining steam in the food takeout and delivery space as a means to reduce the prevalence of single-use plastic packaging.
Uber Eats will closely monitor operations to learn as much as possible before deciding the next steps, Daniza Muliawan, who works on Uber Eats’ strategic initiatives, said via email. It will monitor the volume of first-time vs. repeat users and will work with DeliverZero to track return rates.
People who work as couriers for Uber Eats won’t have to do anything differently when picking up or dropping off orders in reusable containers. Currently, there are no incentives for customers to return the containers, but “DeliverZero’s data shows that the vast majority of customers who choose reusable packaging follow through on its return,” Muliawan said, noting that about 70% of existing DeliverZero customers return the packaging at a participating restaurant instead of scheduling a pickup.
The New York pilot will continue for an unspecified amount of time. The containers are BPA-free polypropylene designed to be reused up to 1,000 times.
The news is the latest of multiple announcements from DeliverZero, including its recent integration with restaurant software company Toast for orders in New York, Chicago and the Denver area. DeliverZero last year acquired Colorado-based reusable takeout container startup Repeater, and it previously partnered with third-party food delivery service DoorDash for reuse pilots.
Last week, DoorDash opened applications for local New York and New Jersey restaurants interested in participating in an accelerator program and those selected for the cohort will receive reusable packaging from DeliverZero. Grubhub and reusable packaging partner Topanga.io have also recently started offering reusable container options for takeout and delivery on college campuses.
In addition, local, state and federal governments are examining reuse programs. A bill introduced in the New York City Council this month would require some restaurants to offer customers the option of returnable, reusable containers instead of only single-use packaging. And on Friday at an event in Washington, D.C., speakers discussed how to scale up reuse systems, including by providing funding. A U.S. EPA representative said the agency is “all in on embracing the reuse movement,” and a representative from the White House Council on Environmental Quality said reuse is a big part of solving the plastic pollution crisis because “we cannot recycle our way out of [it].”