There are many food delivery services to choose from, especially in a city like New York. DeliverZero is one of a long list, but with something that differentiates it from the competition: meals are delivered in containers that can be reused up to 1,000 times, reducing emissions and waste.
We talked with Lauren Sweeney, Co-Founder and CMO of DeliverZero to find out more about her business and also her plans for the future of DeliverZero.
DeliverZero is a restaurant delivery and takeout service where the food arrives in reusable containers directly to your door. You can order in the same way you would on any other platform: visit our app or site, search your address, find a restaurant near you, and order some food.
The order arrives in reusable containers, which you can hand back to the delivery person when you next receive a delivery from us or return them in person at any restaurant on our platform. We give you six weeks to return them, with no extra deposit or fee for the containers. After six weeks, we charge $3.25 per container, which is something we rarely have to do.
My co-founder Adam had been working on the idea for some time before we met. Takeout waste was driving me crazy in my personal life. In my early 20s, I worked in a café/health food store, where we composted and reused everything. It was a hardcore sustainable operation. My lifestyle at the time was vegan and I did yoga for two hours a day.
It wasn’t too long before I was living a very different lifestyle as a working, single mom in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. I would buy a green juice in a plastic bottle every morning and order takeout for lunch in my office almost every day. I remember standing in front of the recycling bins so many times, rinsing out sushi containers and not understanding whether they could actually be recycled. The idea of using something for 30 minutes and throwing it away felt so wasteful to me.
Beyond feeling ridiculous, this disposability is very bad for the environment. A lot of conversations about plastic waste are about the litter in the streets or plastic making its way into marine life habitats. Both of these are big issues, but the real issue is that the manufacturing, consumption, and disposal of single-use packaging contributes to climate change in a major way.
As consumers, we need to use plastic containers in our daily lives because there are often no other alternatives available to us. There needs to be an option that works for the average person, who doesn’t have time to be prepping and cooking every single meal but still wants to eat healthily.
Takeout is presented as the "unhealthy" option, but there are so many great restaurants that prepare healthier food than we might cook for ourselves at home.
Customers generally come to us because they are already into the idea.
There are various degrees of environmental concern, but all of them care about the planet. Some of them are hardcore zero-wasters and others are the average customer who tries their best to recycle but understands that reuse is the best solution.
In terms of the age range, we appeal to a broad spectrum. Last night, I was on chat with someone who was 78 years old. But I’d say most of our customers are in their 20s, 30s, 40s, and 50s – kind of Millennials to Gen X.
We’re launching in Amsterdam soon and we talk about Chicago and LA as being our next target markets. We get a lot of searches on our site from those cities as well as a lot of Instagram messages. I always say I want us to launch there even more than they do!
We’re excited to launch in the Netherlands because they’re leaders in the circular economy (a system aimed at eliminating waste).
I’d say the entire world is of interest! Other European cities would be great markets for us. In Copenhagen, there’s a high level of environmental consciousness and big cities like London are also great possibilities.
We aim to make as much impact as we can with the resources we have available right now. So, in terms of the immediate future, Amsterdam is the next step.