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Just Eat Italy and LifeGate’s sustainability survey shows restaurants across Milan taking action against food waste and plastic packaging

Restaurants across Milan are taking action against food waste and plastic packaging, according to a new survey conducted by Just Eat Italy and LifeGate.

Altogether, 86% of restaurants hand out “doggy bags” to customers to help tackle food waste, while 75% say they are looking for eco-friendly solutions to plastic packaging.

The "Sustainable actions in catering" survey looked at a number of streams including how restaurants are responding to government regulations, changing behaviour and what they’ve been doing to becoming more sustainable.

Sustainable actions and behaviour

According to the research, sustainability is already a focus for many restaurants. To help tackle food waste for example, 86% of restaurants provide “doggy bags” to customers who want to take their leftover food home. 58% share food that is nearing expiry with employees, while 25% donate surplus food to the needy. In addition to this, 83% were limiting the use of plastic bottles and 65% said they were using recycled or eco-friendly packaging materials. Altogether, 89% of restaurants also use LED lighting.

Food waste

The survey analysed the main causes of food waste at restaurants in the Lombard capital. The results showed that 27% of restaurants encountered food waste because they were making large portions of food, while 26% said they received a lower number of customers than expected. 7 out of 10 restaurants say food waste can be caused by mistakes made when buying ingredients - including overbuying and miscalculating sell by dates.

Environmentally friendly materials

Sourcing sustainable packaging for home delivery is becoming increasingly important for many restaurants. More than 50% say they still use packaging made from materials including plastic. However, many restaurants are working hard to use sustainable packaging with 64% saying they use paper or cardboard containers for pizza boxes while 42% say they use eco-friendly bags, trays and containers for burgers.

National regulations and guidance

According to the findings, only 43% of Milanese restaurants are aware of the 2016 Gadda Law which encourages businesses to make donations of surplus food to people in need and offers tax breaks to those who help to tackle food waste. However, 50% of restaurants do make donations to those in need. 75% of restaurants are aware of the more recent government announcement focusing on the need to eliminate plastic from January 2021, and have started to prepare by eliminating unnecessary plastics.

The survey, carried out by the Eumetra MR Institute, is part of LifeGate’s third annual "Sustainable Milan'' research, which assesses attitudes towards sustainable life choices in Italy. LifeGate is a leading sustainability consultancy that supports businesses in the development and implementation of sustainability strategies.

Monica Paoluzzi, Marketing Director, Just Eat Italy, said:

"We are delighted to have conducted this survey alongside LifeGate, to analyse sustainability in Milan’s restaurant sector. This is an area we take very seriously at Just Eat and are committed to help the sector become more environmentally-friendly.

"It is fundamental for us to understand the current trends in order to address the current and future needs of the restaurant sector as well as our customers. The results of this survey will help us develop valuable projects that champion sustainable innovation while continuing to work on our current initiatives such as Ristorante Solidale.”

Just Eat Italy has already taken a number of measures to encourage environmentally-friendly behaviour across the takeaway sector. The business launched Ristorante Solidate in 2017 to tackle food waste and food poverty. The project encourages restaurant partners to donate surplus food to those in need and is already live in Milan, Turin, Naples and Rome.

As part of the Ristorante Solidale project, Just Eat Italy has also launched a number of activities as part of its mission to raise awareness on food waste and poverty. These include:

  • Piatto sospeso - the first digital campaign to collect meals for hungry people, donated by customers ordering from a number of Just Eat restaurant partners.
  • #iononsprecoconSaveBag - a project which saw Just Eat encourage restaurants to tackle food waste by offering customers “Save Bags”(doggy bags) to enable them to take uneaten meals home with them.
  • Risotto Solidale - During Milan Food Week, over 25 kg risotto was donated to shelters and food kitchens with the support of Caritas Ambrosiana.
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