Without a doubt, the food delivery services from companies like Go-Jek (Go-Food) and Grab (Grab Food) have completely changed Indonesia’s food and beverage landscape.
Both the consumers and businesses have never had it so good. A full belly just a click away, affordable labour scoots over to your restaurant of choice to bring you your meal.
What isn’t to love?
Sadly, at least for this writer, it’s time to stop using them. Let me explain…
Starting off as humble substitutes to ojeks and taxis, these online transport applications quickly expanded their services.
They gave their users the ability to order food, deliver documents, buy cinema tickets, get their groceries, pay for utilities, order a cleaner or even a massage.
These range of services provided are by all means fantastic; allowing users to be more efficient and effective with their own time as Go-Jek drivers scurry to do their bidding.
Best part of all, the services remain affordable, or cheap some might even say. Indonesia’s service industry has always been commendable but these apps have taken this to a whole new level.
However, the biggest impact of all has certainly been the food delivery services offered by such applications.
Go-Jek’s Go-Food is now in partnership with over 125,000 merchants (Feb 2018) making it the largest food delivery service in the world outside of China.
The service’s contribution to the national economy is also a staggering statistic, in Jakarta alone Go-Food contributes Rp. 300 Billion to the city’s economy (5 May 2018).
For restaurants themselves, Go-Food has irrefutably been good for business. Restaurants have seen their revenues go up 2.5x more than before they joined the application, and perhaps the most positive part is that these services (Grab Food included) help many smaller and medium businesses as well as larger businesses.
One business, Pisang Goreng Bu Nanik in West Jakarta, says that out of their 1,400 sales a day, 80-90% are from Go-Food alone.
And how about for us, the consumer?
Well, if anything, these services certainly show how incredibly lazy we are capable of being if given the means. Go-Jek and Grab are the absolute kryptonite to any straying thoughts of being active.
Rain? Go-Food. Hungover? Go-Food. Tired from a slightly longer day of work? Go-Food. It’s Monday today? Go-Food.
Laziness aside, these services no doubt help save time in our increasingly busy lives, removing unnecessary tasks from our already long to-do lists.
So yes, food delivery services rock – hands down! They save our time, increase income for drivers, increase revenues for restaurants and they’re clearly fantastic for the economy.
So, what the hell is my problem?
The problem is that the efficiency of this service has increased the amount we order food home. And the problem with ordering food home is this:-
The insane amounts of single-use, plastic-based packaging that goes into a single meal!
That’s right, I’m talking about plastic pollution.
In a time where the whole world, including Indonesia, is literally up in arms about marine plastic pollution, plastic straws, plastic bags, plastic on our beaches, etc, we have not even realised the amount of plastic our everyday deliveries add up to.
Here are some photos I took from 3 separate orders on different days:
11 pieces of single-use plastic-based products (including styrofoam)
6 pieces of single-use plastic-based products
9 pieces of single-use plastic-based products (including styrofoam)
Just count the amount of tiny plastic bags that are used to separate rice from sauce, vegetables from meat, the acar and the sambal, the plastic cutlery, the kerupuk.
This represents one meal (between two people), now multiply that by the thousands of orders these services process in one day, then multiple that by 365 days. Do the math.
That’s how much plastic waste the food-delivery services are producing (as a side effect) in a time where we are supposed to be reducing our consumption of single-use plastics!
You might say, “but we used to order food even without these services!” Sure, of course, sometimes, but without a doubt it wasn’t to the same frequency as you order today. Seriously, can you even remember what you did before Go-Jek or Grab food services?
To be entirely fair, the food-delivery services like Go-Jek and Grab Food are not to blame for this.
This is a highly unfortunate side effect of amazing services that meets the needs of so many. To Go-Jek and Grab, if you’re reading this, fingers are not being pointed at you.
But you can help to fix this…
So, what’s the solution?
1) You Are The Planet’s First Line Of Defence
If you are indeed conscious of the growing threat plastic has on our environment, then you are its first line of defence. If you can, reduce your dependency on food delivery services, Go-Jek, Grab, Pizza Hut, whatever. Drop-by somewhere on the way back home. Cook from time-to-time. Stopping altogether might be extreme, but how about knocking off a few deliveries a week/month?
2) Businesses Take Environmental Responsibility
At the end of the day, those choosing the packaging is the restaurants themselves. So, it would be great if they could opt for environmentally-friendly packaging now easily available, like paper or bagasse take away boxes. Trade off some profit for the good of the planet. You could suggest this to your favourite spots, maybe even start to choose restaurants that use better packaging over those who don’t (good excuse to order pizza if you’re like me).
3) Our Tech-Service Unicorns Need To LEAD The Way
Finally, whilst companies like Go-Jek and Grab aren’t directly responsible for the plastic pollution their services produce (as a side effect), they do hold a lot of power to change this. They could, for example, label restaurants as “Eco-Friendly” for using non-plastic packaging, to incentivise businesses to move towards better options and allow consumers to reduce their own plastic footprint (example above).
Go-Jek could also integrate food delivery packages to certain bikes to remove the need for plastic bags.
So powerful are these guys, some restaurants now dependent on the revenue from these apps, meaning force all of their merchants to offer eco-friendly packaging or suffer the consequences…
The ultimate win-win situation would of course be that we all get to enjoy our food delivered to our front doorstep whenever we want, guilt free.
We’re happily fed, restaurants happily paid and the planet happily saved (or at least less destroyed).
So, next time you order food home, I ask you to count the number of plastic bags your food comes in.
Let that number sink in. Hopefully this will convince you to be part of the change.
Article by Erwin Susanto, Guest Contributor
This article has been submitted by a contributor; the views and beliefs shared in this article do not necessarily reflect the views and beliefs of WowShack Indonesia.