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Nationwide Integrated Reusable Containers System for food delivery and takeaway.

Design out single-use plastics packaging in food delivery and takeout.

Photo of Marisa_A null
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Plastic (and styrofoam) disposables such as takeaway containers, cups, plates, bowls, utensils, sauce containers and plastic bottles still make up the most common form of waste disposed at incineration plants in Singapore.  

In the fast-paced, work-intense modern life, single professionals as well as families find it easy, convenient  and affordable to order take-away food. This in turn, generates an enormous amount of food containers being discarded every day. 

We are proposing a systems-based solution to replace disposable plastic food packaging for food delivery and takeout for households and office workers that still affords them the degree of convenience they are used to.

Reusable containers will reduce the need for single-use plastic containers and related items. It will significantly reduce waste. The use of sustainable materials for design and manufacturing of containers also needs to be explored. (Reusable alternatives such as stainless steel, glass and durable plastic are available but are not used because of high cost, high value, weight and lack of an efficient system).  

We propose to utilise the existing food delivery network (e.g. Deliveroo, Food Panda, Uber Eats) as well as other third party logistics to be partners in this system that already connects restaurants and customers. These organisations will also optimise their carbon emissions or footprint by transporting more on each trip!

A group of restaurants will be participating in the system such that customers will always have a large variety of food options. 

There is also a business opportunity as a second partner (such as a PWC - public waste collector - e.g Sembcorp, Veolia)  that would provide the service of collecting (?), washing and redistributing the items back to restaurants (perhaps together / or by delivery ppl). The system will be credits/deposit-based, such that ensures return of the containers to the central facility.  Such system will allow restaurants and consumers to reuse containers thus reducing costs, but remaining convenient and accessible and making delivery and take-out food market more environment friendly. 

With Singapore being so small, isolated, well connected and relatively organised, we believe it’s possible to test and scale such a scheme into this ‘living lab’ called Singapore.

The business/system and containers could be owned nationally, by a private organisation or by a new entity.

We feel our idea straddles 1. Products to People – Reimagine Delivery Models, 2. Reimagine the Package – Design for Zero Waste and 3. Local Design – Global Impact

We haven't had enough time to develop visuals or forms etc but we have thought through the system and potential partnerships more as well as what might be needed.

Idea Title

Integrated nationwide reusable containers and return within a system for food Delivery and takeout.

Company / Organization Name

OpenIDEO Singapore Outpost

Website Currently we only have closed Facebook Group.

Where are you / your team located?


How does this Idea redesign unrecyclable small format plastic items that often end up as waste?

The idea can be applied other items - food containers to coffee mugs (plastic or with plastic lids) and other small food packaging as well as the food containers we mention. We are trying to create an integrated food & drink packaging - container system for both delivery and takeout (which includes where possible, the smaller items as well - lids, sauce sachets). We are looking to redesign the entire system. From the product delivery method to the containers to the return and reuse.

Which use cases does your Idea apply to?

It makes the small packaging and its small plastic wrappers obsolete by introducing more durable materials. Take-away food containers represent highest proportion of incinerated waste in Singapore. The government still needs some degree of waste to burn for energy needs and due to the investment in the plants. We feel our solution cuts across a few of the use cases but is a more relevant context for here and that the opportunity is for something that includes these items.

In what geographical context or area does your Idea plan to operate / solve?

Singapore. But it cld work across other geographies/markets that have the same types of networks and actors.

How do you envision scaling up your Idea?

We envision starting with a residential neighbourhood and/or the Central Business District in Singapore. We hope to then scale up to the whole of Singapore, which is a relatively small island nation of about 720 sq km. Obstacles include setting up a common cleaning unit for all restaurants/central facility (space is very limited and $ in Singapore). Government involvement would likely be key. The other would be getting ppl to return the containers or sets 'complete'. Design in cues/forms.

At what stage of development is your Idea?

  • Research & Early Testing: You are exploring an idea, gathering inspiration and information needed to test it with real users.

Please describe how becoming a Top Idea and working with the Think Beyond Plastics Accelerator Program will help to accelerate your solution.

We believe it would be an amazing opportunity to close the loop and to integrate and maximise existing networks easily. We would love to work with the experts in developing material combinations or layers tor qualities that really work for this idea and how to make this a working system with other technology (digital, plant & logistics). There are many types of existing containers already or there maybe already some suitable forms or even ones that could be adapted for this.

Please describe from where your Idea emerged

Many of us had small parts of this idea but coming together through the OpenIDEO Outpost made it come together as the entire system and more developed! We have a document which shows some of the other existing concepts from which this was drawn/developed.

Tell us about your work experience

We are a multi disciplinary group via OpenIDEO outpost meetup. Including designers, scientists, business, financiers, engineers. Some entrepreneurs, self employed, full time jobs & students.

Please describe your legal and organizational structure



Join the conversation:

Photo of Ghee Kian Koh

Hi Marisa_A ,

For years, I've been very concerned by the amount of disposables consumed by and average Singaporean, and the idea of circulating reusable food containers and utensils recently occurred to me. I did a simple Google search to see if this idea has been implemented anywhere, and chanced upon your OpenIDEO idea. I am wondering if there are any progress or updates regarding implementation of this project?

I am currently a psychology undergraduate in Singapore, and am finding ways to create greater changes to our lifestyle and behaviours, possibly through application of behavioural concepts. There is also hardly any platforms discussing real changes with truly pro-environmental values like the community here, so it really is a vital platform that I was lucky to discover.

If you would kindly allow me to be on board with this project, I would greatly appreciate the opportunity. I do hope this idea is still afloat, as it has been almost a year later that i've found this. I have also requested to join the facebook group too. Thank you!

Ghee Kian

Photo of Marisa_A null

Hi @Ghee Kian Koh, thanks for your message. Sorry it's taken a while to reply. We haven't moved forward with this yet but it's something we are interested to explore further. Can you contact in a private message or something?
Which Uni are you at?
I realise there is no PM on here. Can you get in touch with my via my company website? through the contact page?

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