Indian hyperlocal delivery startups have a problem no one talks about

Indian hyperlocal delivery startups have a problem no one talks about

Indian hyperlocal delivery startups have a problem no one talks about

Last week, a friend of mine ordered me a dal chawal dinner from Mast Kalandar, a Bengaluru-based food tech startup that prepares and delivers “home-cooked” meals. Unlike most restaurants that serve food in plastic bags or boxes, this one comes in a plastic tray with a plastic lid stuck on top. The packaging looked like it was made by some UX torturer from hell – it took my two hands and a fair amount of finesse, patience and resolve to remove the plastic from the tray without spilling the contents that was filled to the edges of the board. While the content was appetizing, the packaging gave me the resolve to look at other food delivery options now. My one meal contained enough plastic to choke a cow.

Plastic packaging is ubiquitous in the home meal delivery industry, at every price point, from budget to gourmet. None of the restaurants I’ve come across see the point of being environmentally and socially responsible with the plastic and packaging they bring home with every delivery.

Food tech startups are only making this problem worse, as thanks to the promise of “healthy eating at home,” not to mention deals, they are driving ever-increasing numbers of deliveries. And every delivery comes with its layers and layers of plastic, far beyond anything restaurants do.

These startups don’t need to use disposable containers – all it takes is a cheap, low-tech solution like a lunch box or bento box, which can be washed and recycled for ages. years. This should be a default option given the scale and severity of the problem. Some Tiffin delivery services pack food in disposable polythene bags, with no regard for safety or consumer preferences. I’m sure they can budget it or force consumers to pay a deposit, but so far no one seems to even think about this issue.

Outsourcing our food needs to a third party has obvious consequences at the end of the product’s life cycle. On a morning stroll through the working class areas of Ejipura, Bengaluru, you will see the hellish hellish landscape that is the end result of thousands of working class people who had no time to cook for themselves . Huge heaps of polythene plastic lay around, burning slowly, releasing dioxins into the air. These plastic bags also clog the gutters during rains and cause flooding. It’s a social problem that most of our Indian readers have come across, and I for one can’t wait for our ban-happy overlords to do something about it.

I now have a small collection of polythene bags and cardboard boxes piled up in a corner of my kitchen thanks in large part to Grofers, the hyperlocal delivery startup I’ve trusted to do my food shopping on multiple occasions. over the past month. Dropkaffe, the Bengaluru-based online on-demand coffee and snack service, delivers its sandwiches in cardboard boxes, which seems quite unnecessary, since their sandwiches are already wrapped in saran film. I give them credit for bringing my drip coffee in a flask and pouring it straight into my cup.

Most startups are built around habit formation, consumer convenience and delight – but when it comes to food, I don’t know if outsourcing this part of my full-time life is a good idea. In this RSA talk, Michael Pollan, author of The Omnivore’s Dilemma, explains how cooking food at home has more health benefits and shares sordid details about the fast food supply chain. You can see that conversation below:

It’s sure to make you want to take home cooking classes, ask more questions about where your products come from, or hire your own personal chef, instead of using one more app to place an order. a kilo of plastic, with some vegetables (cooked or otherwise) thrown in.

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