November 22, 2022
VICTORY: Brazil’s leading food delivery service commits to new single-use plastic reductions
BY: Sarah Holcomb
If it were up to consumers, would food delivery services still bundle our orders in plastic? According to a 2021 survey by Intelligence in Research and Consulting (IPEC) in Brazil, the answer is no. Seven out of 10 Brazilian internet users want to receive their food without single-use plastic. Fifteen percent felt so uneasy about the amount of plastic included with their orders that they stopped using food delivery apps altogether.
People are finding plastic’s impact harder to ignore. Plastic is polluting our oceans, endangering marine life, and even emitting greenhouse gases that drive climate change. Oceana has a strong track record of working with allies to win campaigns that reduce unnecessary single-use plastics. We recently secured new commitments from Brazil’s largest home food delivery service, iFood.
Launched in late 2020, when the Covid-19 pandemic and food delivery was at its peak, the #DeLivreDePlástico campaign, co-led by Oceana and the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP), called on food delivery apps to commit to significantly reduce throw-away plastic in their operations by offering plastic-free checkout choices.
From April-July 2021, an estimated 20,000 people signed our campaign’s online petition, thanks to social media efforts, a partnership with Fridays For Future Brazil, and an unexpected boost from a popular show. Big Brother Brazil, sponsored by the country’s largest food delivery company, iFood, featured meal deliveries packaged in excessive plastic throughout the show, triggering a big wave of criticism from viewers and more calls for plastic reduction.
The campaign also relied on support from celebrities like actress and environmental activist Laila Zaid, actor and UNEP Clean Sea ambassador Mateus Solano, and professional big wave surfer and Oceana Board Member Maya Gabeira.
In August 2021, iFood publicly joined Oceana and UNEP’s campaign and committed to an 80% reduction in plastic cutlery, plates, cups, straws, and napkins included in orders by 2025. The company further committed to developing work plans and adopting transparency targets.
In October 2022, the company expanded its reduction targets by including other single-use plastic categories – containers, condiment sachets, and plastic bags. iFood also pledged that 100% of the restaurants on its platform would provide users with the option not to receive condiment sachets with their orders by 2025.
WHY IT MATTERS
In Brazil, the food delivery industry’s consumption of single-use plastic items increased by 46% from 2019 to 2021, an Oceana-commissioned study found.
Three million tons of single-use plastics are produced annually in the country, 13% of which are products often used by food delivery companies like plates, cups, cutlery, and plastic bags. That’s about 500 billion disposable items per year. Most of these items have little economic value for recycling, and many end up in the environment and ocean instead. Every year, Brazil dumps more than 325,000 tons of plastic waste into the ocean, harming marine life and ecosystems.
Following Oceana’s campaign with UNEP, iFood plans to eliminate 2.7 billion single-use plastic items by 2025 – a big win for the oceans and for all of us.