August 20, 2020 • Food5 min read

City Pantry & Sustainability: what we're doing to help the planet

Earth Overshoot Day is upon us again and we're reflecting on what City Pantry is doing to improve our sustainability now and into the future.

Earth Overshoot Day is the calculated day in which “humanity’s demand for ecological resources and services in a given year exceeds what Earth can regenerate in that year”. In other words, we’re using up more than our planet can give back.

At City Pantry, our mission is to make working lives better by delivering great food to offices and remote teams around the UK. But all that comes at a cost to the environment.

Over the past couple of years, we’ve been making some big changes to create a more sustainable, fairer service for people and for the planet. From zero emissions deliveries to sustainable packaging and food waste reduction, read on to find out what we’ve been up to:

Zero-emissions delivery

Man carrying thermal food boxes, behind him is a cargo bike

Delivering delicious meals to offices is what we do best. But traditional delivery methods are really detrimental to the environment.

Road traffic in Great Britain increased by almost 30% from 1990 to 2018 and in 2017 greenhouse gas emissions from road transport made up around a fifth of the UK’s total greenhouse gas emissions.

Driving petrol and diesel cars is not only contributing to climate change, but it’s also toxic for those breathing in the air nearby. In fact, it’s estimated the one in 19 deaths in Britain’s largest towns and cities are linked to air pollution.

In August 2019, we decided enough was enough. Delivering great food to hungry workers had to be more sustainable. So, we began researching alternative delivery partners who could get piping hot food from A to B without leaving behind a trail of toxic air.

We struck our first eco-friendly delivery partnership with DeliveryMates, who own a fleet of over 400 electric vehicles.

In October of the same year, we teamed up with Urb-it, a delivery company with a twist. Instead of using cars and motorcycles, Urb-it delivers goods using walkers, cyclists, and public transport. You can’t get much more green than that!

And being eco-friendly isn’t just good for the planet, when it comes to delivery it’s also a win for customer service too! Urb-it boasts a 98.5% delivery success rate as ‘urbers’ don’t have to battle busy traffic congestion.

“At Urb-it, we believe that excellent service doesn’t have the be at the expense of our environment. Our community of couriers pick up orders in-store and hand-deliver them on foot or by public transport, meaning that our service adds zero congestion or pollution to the cities we operate in. Working together with City Pantry in their sustainability initiative, we have helped them to reduce their environmental impact through zero-emission logistics.” - Choukri, Urb-it

Eco-friendly packaging

Carboard box full of unpackaged fruit and veg

Plastic gets a bad rap. And for good reasons - it’s wreaking havoc on the planet.

Under 10% of all plastic produced since the 1950s has been recycled and up to 12.7 million tonnes of plastic enters the ocean each year. Plastic production, management, and disposal harm both humans and animals significantly.

So, we’re encouraging our vendor partners to use less of it.

We partnered with Greenman Packaging to give restaurants and caterers exclusive offers on eco-friendly packaging, in addition to free eco-audits with Oceanic Global.

We’ve also made it easy for our customers to search for food that uses plastic-free packaging - just use our ‘Eco Friendly Packaging’ tag. We only use this tag if the packaging is plastic-free, biodegradable, or compostable. So, go ahead and search for greener food options to your heart’s content!

Want to know more about how you can reduce your plastic consumption while working from home? Check out our Plastic-free July blog. You can also take a look at our top zero-waste vendor partners here.

Food waste prevention

City Harvest volunteer holding green crate of food in front of City Harvest branded van

Did you know that the UK wastes around 9.5 million tonnes of food each year? And 13.4 million meals are thrown away by businesses every month?

Not only is it a waste of resources, but it’s also really damaging to the environment. When organic matter rots in landfill, it releases methane, a greenhouse gas several times more potent than carbon dioxide.

At City Pantry we know how precious food is, so we do our best to ensure that it doesn’t end up in the bin. That’s why we partner with City Harvest, a food redistribution charity that gives surplus food to those who need it most. They’ve offset 14,000 tonnes of greenhouse gases to date!

So, whenever one of our customers cancels an order last minute, we get in touch with the team at City Harvest and they take care of the rest, ensuring that it finds a new home quickly and safely.

So far, we’ve redistributed over 4000 meals to those in need!

The Just Eat Takeaway group

Orange Takeaway.com e-bike and rider

City Pantry is proud to be part of the Just Eat Takeaway group, who take sustainability seriously.

Even before the establishment of Just Eat Takeaway, Just Eat was committed to “doing business responsibly”. This included establishing an innovation platform to invest in the research and development of alternatives for single-use plastics and partnering with Eskuta to give restaurant partners discounts on electric bikes and scooters.

The creation of Just Eat Takeaway has only made this commitment to sustainability stronger and more powerful.

Takeaway.com introduced Scoober in 2019, a restaurant delivery service that employs drivers, paying per hour, and uses e-bikes and e-scooters to get food where it needs to go. The company is currently striving to achieve a majority of electric vehicles in all markets as part of its sustainability strategy.

Just Eat Takeaway’s commitment to being more sustainable extends to the company’s office culture too. Initiatives to be more green at work include using video conferencing to replace national and international travel as much as possible, keeping paper usage as low as possible, and offering a company bicycle scheme to encourage employees to use more sustainable modes of transport.

The future

Photo of trees looking up from the ground

City Pantry is committed to doing even more for the environment, and we know there’s a lot of work yet to do.

By the end of the year, we are aiming for at least 50% of our deliveries to be zero-emissions and we will be reducing the number of journeys required per order.

We will also further encourage our vendor partners to use sustainable packaging by including information about our eco-packaging offers in onboarding processes and Quarterly Business Reviews.

To keep up-to-date with our sustainability efforts, be sure to check our Corporate Social Responsibility page regularly.

“We can have healthy bodies, healthy companies and a healthy environment. They’re all attainable if we think and act holistically, unselfishly and think beyond today.”— Mike Strange, Head of Operations, City Pantry