Food Delivery Industry: How Sustainable are Dark Kitchens?

Takeaway food packaging

As the food industry increasingly moves towards the delivery business model, it has become easier than ever to get your favourite meals delivered right to your door. But can dark kitchens help improve the overall sustainability of the food delivery industry? We give you the latest scoop…

The Sustainability of Dark Kitchens

Dark kitchens have clear sustainability advantages over conventional restaurants; they aren’t attached to a brick-and-mortar restaurant, which means lower running costs and a reduced carbon footprint. Brands can share energy-intensive equipment, such as cold storage rooms, saving electricity. Sharing the same kitchen space also offers foodservice operators the chance to combine their supply chains and reduce the number of journeys needed to replenish the kitchens.

Though dark kitchens don’t have the same high-energy footprint as traditional storefront restaurants, there are still major sustainability concerns to consider. Logistics is one of the key aspects to evaluate in the food delivery market due to the increasing demand from customers to receive their food in less time at a lower price. For this reason, the majority of food delivery apps use a one-package-per-stop system. This method has a much greater environmental footprint than planned deliveries, optimised to deliver as many packages using as few drivers, motorbikes and other resources as possible.

How Dark Kitchens and Food Delivery Businesses can Improve their Sustainability Practices

Sustainable Supply Chain

As the food system continues to grow and evolve, so too do the concerns of those involved in its production, processing, distribution, and delivery. A sustainable supply chain must take into account the environmental impact of each stage of the supply chain, from farm to table.

Food supply chains need to support sustainable local agricultural and food production to create more resilient communities. A sustainable supply chain starts with sourcing ingredients from suppliers that use environmentally friendly practices and working with local farmers and purveyors. For example, some farmers may use organic methods to grow crops or raise livestock without harming the environment. Seasonal and regionally-specific foods need less energy to grow since they rely on natural sunlight and rainfall instead of artificial heat or irrigation.

Food processors and food brands can also adopt sustainable practices, such as using renewable energy to power their facilities, buying in bulk from local suppliers to reduce packaging waste and costs and shorter transport distances mean fewer emissions of greenhouse gases and other pollutants.

Zero-Emissions Vehicles

As the world becomes more and more digitised, we are seeing a corresponding increase in the use of zero-emission vehicles for food delivery. Electric vehicles are increasing in popularity each year as the price of batteries reduces and technology improves their efficiency.

Electric vehicles are not only improving the food business’ environmental credentials but are cheaper to operate than petrol or diesel vehicles. Electric cars have a much higher energy efficiency than petrol or diesel cars, meaning they use less fuel and generate fewer emissions.

Introducing electric vehicle charging stations and working with delivery apps and other delivery solution providers can reduce our reliance on fossil fuels.

Eliminating Single-Use Plastics

As the number of food delivery platforms and online food delivery services continue to grow, so does the amount of packaging waste. We now know that what we eat and how it’s packaged makes up a significant portion of our CO2 emissions. Single use-plastic is a substantial and wasteful component of food delivery that affects the environment after its use.

Food packaging should be designed for sustainability where single-use plastic is eliminated, and production and processes across the entire food value chain should become non-polluting. 

Reusable & Biodegradable Packaging

There are advances in compostable, biodegradable, recyclable and recycled packaging – meaning less CO2 used in production, less waste going to landfill, and no toxic chemicals produced as it decomposes. Bio-plastics, made from biological sources and food by-products, also promise to tackle food waste and single-use plastic and drive us towards a circular economy. This type of packaging is not only environmentally friendly, but it can also help to keep prepared food and prepared meals fresher for longer.

Developing a circular packaging system can champion reusable materials as ecologic products break down into compost and other organic compounds that can benefit the environment and reduce the quantity of generated waste.

Some apps, such as UberEats, are reinventing their ordering service, enabling customers to opt-in to receive additional items in their online orders and making users more conscious of the essential products they require. There is also the option of delivery riders collecting utensils and crockery after customers use them.

Shared-Use Kitchens

The more commercial kitchens that share a location, the greater the chances of a rider consolidating food orders to the same area, subsequently reducing the delivery miles per meal compared with delivering from several individual takeaway sites.

Dephna’s dark kitchens are ready and waiting to fire up your food business. Our delivery kitchens are accessible and convenient spaces to help you meet high business demand. Enquire now to book a viewing at one of our London kitchen locations.

by Dephna

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