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The Environmental Impact of Food Delivery Services

Digital mobile app man ordering takeout burger online
Author: Jack Lloyd
Updated: Apr 27, 2022
5 minutes read

The growth in food delivery services, such as Deliveroo and Uber Eats, has been huge. Particularly during the closing of dine-in restaurants during the pandemic.

Not only have homeowners benefitted from food delivery services, but restaurants have also profited by partnering with delivery apps, or setting up their own delivery services.

However, the increased popularity in food delivery services also means increased emissions, unsustainable packaging and excessive food waste. Here we have outlined how food delivery services are impacting the environment and how learning about it can help you make more informed choices before ordering online.

Food delivery services impact the environment in two major ways: waste and emissions.

Environmental Waste

Non-sustainable packaging in food delivery is a huge contribution to environmental waste. With materials such as single-use plastics, which aren’t biodegradable, or styrofoam, which takes hundreds of years to decompose.

Food Waste

According to Fareshare, 3.6 million tonnes of food is wasted by the food industry every year in the UK. This includes everyone involved in the supply of food, from farmers to manufacturers, and retailers to food service companies.

With food delivery services, you can take into account food that gets delivered to the wrong address or meals that have accidentally violated certain allergy or dietary requirements, all of which will potentially go to waste.

Even smaller factors, such as the quality of food or portion sizes, can contribute to food waste from deliveries the same way it would in a restaurant.


Transportation is one of the largest causes of greenhouse gas emissions. According to NimbleFins, the average car releases 1,682,383 grams of CO₂ into the atmosphere each year.

Granted, the percentage of cyclists at companies like Deliveroo are marginally higher; however, there are still a lot of delivery services that use cars/motorbikes as their predominant mode of transport.

This is only made worse by the increase in popularity with food deliveries, which causes huge environmental issues.

What’s The Solution?

As a consumer, you can make more conscious choices to go green. Here are some of the best practices:

Go Local

Look out for local restaurants, farms, and supermarkets and see if they provide a delivery service of their own. Using their services will not only benefit their business, but you also reduce the carbon emissions it takes to get your food delivered.

Sustainable Packaging

Rather than using plastic or styrofoam, ordering from somewhere that uses cardboard packaging is another way you can make food delivery a greener experience.

Even if, for whatever reason, the cardboard cannot be recycled, it degrades much sooner than other alternatives.

No Single-Use Plastics

If possible, avoid using plastic with your meal. If you’re getting food delivered, it’s likely that you will already have the utensils you need at home and won’t need any additional plastic with your meal.

Keeping a pair of utensils at your work or in your bag is another great way to reduce your need for plastic if you're ordering to your workplace.

Meal Kits

Another way to go green with your food delivery is considering meal kits, instead of having just a single-meal delivery.

Food companies like HelloFresh and Gousto have taken the necessary steps to reduce their carbon footprints, and they reduce food waste by purchasing ingredients based on your order that’s pre-portioned to the gram.

They also deliver groceries straight to your home without stopping at warehouses and retailers. This reduces CO₂ emissions by cutting back on transport time.

While shipping and delivery still causes emissions, getting multiple meals delivered at once is a much better alternative than a single-meal delivery service. It's also much more cost-effective.

Businesses can also benefit the environment by implementing the following:

  • Limiting delivery range for drivers

  • Recyclable containers

  • Reducing delivery hours

  • Utensils made from natural materials, like bamboo or sugarcane

  • Delivering more than one order at a time


We understand the convenience of delivering food is a huge appeal. However, just by implementing a few of the practices above, you can still enjoy food delivery while helping to shrink its environmental impact.

It’s these environmentally friendly practices that can really make a big difference.

For more ways in which you can help the environment, see our whole range of products on our homepage.

Solar panels and EV chargers work well together to reduce your environmental impact.