According to a Caixin report, the Shanghai Municipal Bureau of Quality and Technical Supervision issued a standard on April 27 requiring food delivery companies to use environmentally friendly laminated paper bowls, rather than plastic containers that degrade with difficulty. In addition, the delivery bags will also have to change: the standard provides three options for the food delivery companies to replace the traditional plastic bags, including paper bags, biodegradable bags and textile bags.
The new standard was jointly drafted by the Shanghai Association of Food Contact Materials and major food delivery companies, including Meituan, Ele.me and Baidu Waimai. It was revised five times before being passed. After it is implemented, the food delivery companies will deliver the food in laminated paper bowls, although the lids will be made of plastic. If the standard goes smoothly into effect, it could reduce plastic waste by more than 75%.
It should be noted however that the plan does not appear to have much real legal tooth. As a standard put forward by the Shanghai Association of Food Contact Materials, companies cannot be coerced into following its requirements, and it is only considered to be a “social co-governance commitment standard”, in effect a commitment made by the companies themselves. Not everyone is optimistic about the extent to which the new standard will really be put into practice.
Others have wondered whether the laminated paper of which the bowls will be made is really all that environmentally friendly, pointing out that the process by which it is recycled is very complicated, and so this sort of material is not very popular in the recycling market.
The new standard for food deliveries will be launched in June. The pilot areas will be Changning, Pudong and Putuo in Shanghai. It will then be gradually extended to the whole city.