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New York City restaurants partner with DeliverZero to provide reusable takeout containers

DeliverZero offers greener takeout container options
DeliverZero offers greener takeout container options 01:51

NEW YORK -- While ordering takeout is an easy way to get meals on the table, the convenience comes with a lot of single-use plastic that can wind up in landfills, but new startups are trying to deliver food without the waste.

At the restaurant Raiz in the East Village, the vegan Mexican food is cooked to order and packaged in a new, greener way. Diners can order takeout in containers that can be reused instead of being thrown away.

"I love giving people the option," Raiz owner Nick Johnson said.

Johnson partnered with a company called DeliverZero, which works with 200 restaurants in New York and Colorado. All use the same system of containers.

"If we can make reuse easier than recycling and more transparent, people will adopt the system," DeliverZero CEO Lauren Sweeney said.

Sweeney says diners are charged $1 per order and can return containers to any DeliverZero restaurant to be sanitized and reused.

"If you create a channel for people to return stuff and keep it in circulation, they're really enthusiastic about it," Sweeney said.

Other startups, like Dispatch Goods and Bold Reuse, are encouraging similar practices.

A University of Michigan study found these kinds of containers need to be reused about a dozen times before they can make any kind of environmental impact.

"We see them used at least hundreds of times. So they're designed for up to a thousand uses and we have a 98 percent return rate," Sweeney said.

Customers have three weeks to return the containers or face a surcharge.

"We have a dishwasher, so we can wash them here," Johnson said.

Johnson says the environmentally friendly option is also friendly for his bottom line. That's because DeliverZero charges just a few cents per use, far less than having to buy new single-use packaging.

"We would love if we only were using that for takeout," Johnson said.

Helping small businesses save some green, while delivering something better for the planet.

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