Lifestyles in China are changing rapidly, and ordering food online is an example. However, those billions of delivery meals produce an enormous amount of plastic waste from packaging, but also from food containers and cutlery; in one year, some 7.3 billion sets of single-use tableware accompany the food. Around one-third of the 553 kilotons of municipal solid waste that is generated each day comes from packaging. That is why a group of scientists analysed whether using paper alternatives or reusable tableware could reduce plastic waste and associated life cycle emissions.
Ya Zhou (associate professor at Guangdong University of Technology) and Yuli Shan are the first authors of this paper. Yuli Shan, Dabo Guan (Professor at Tsinghua University) and Yanpeng Cai (Professor at Guangdong University of Technology) are the corresponding authors.
‘We quantified the environmental impact and modelled different alternatives,’ explains Shan. The alternatives to the single-use plastic tableware were