- Yelp announced a new initiative aimed at quantifying a restaurant’s environmental impact, according to Skift Table. The restaurant review platform will ask users if eateries have eco-friendly measures in place, such as no plastic straws, no plastic utensils, no plastic bags, reusable cup discounts and compostable containers.
- Yelp will collect and process this data in-house so it can determine the best way to determine environmental sustainability.
- The company plans to make this information available to customers within a year.
Consumers are making a big splash about the harm of single-use plastics, and it's impacting virtually every segment of the food chain, restaurants included, and driving retailers to find plastic-free solutions.
There have also been several stories about plastic straws disastrous impact on sea turtles, leading many companies like Starbucks to rapidly remove straws from their stores. The leading coffee retailer has also made moves towards “greener” coffee cups that are compostable and recyclable. The test runs are taking place at store locations throughout Seattle, San Francisco, New York, Vancouver and London. Competitor Philz Coffee also provides customers with a breakdown of the steps that it’s coffee travels from farm to cup,a move that reflects growing diner interest in transparent supply chains.
Lawmakers are taking the plastic problem into their own hands, with Seattle and Washington, D.C., banning plastic straws. California has banned the use of plastic bags throughout the state, but restaurants do not have to comply and the law is more aimed at grocers. Hawaii is considering a strict plastic ban that would prohibit foam containers at fast food and full-service restaurants, while another bill would eliminate the use of plastic drink bottles, utensils, stirring sticks, bags and straws.
Overseas, the European Parliament recently approved a single-use plastics ban that takes effect 2021 and covers plastic straws, cutlery, plates, stirrers and more.
Some restaurants aren’t waiting for laws to effect change. KFC recently announced a commitment to sourcing more sustainable packaging by 2025. It also joined fellow Yum Brands banners Taco Bell and Pizza Hut in the NextGen Consortium, a coalition of food companies led by Starbucks and McDonald's that are dedicated to advancing packaging alternatives. McDonald's is also working to eliminate foam packaging by the end of the year.
As sustainability continues to sweep food service, we will likely see more initiatives aimed at reducing food's environmental footprint. Yelp's new environmental rating system is also likely to put pressure on operators, and could spur the development of similar metrics across other review sites.