Phase Change Solutions, a manufacturer of green building materials and the company behind the Domino’s HeatWave bags, claims the technology to improve restaurant delivery is fired up and ready to go—if only third-party delivery providers would spring for the upgrade.
Its moniker comes from the advanced phase changing technologies that absorb and release large amounts of thermal energy while melting and freezing. When these materials freeze, they release latent heat at a relatively constant temperature. When they melt, those same materials absorb heat.
As green building technologies gain steam across the planet, such materials have found applications regulating temperatures inside telecom boxes and in commercial, industrial and residential applications to keep people and products closer to ideal temperatures without traditional heating or cooling technologies that tend to require significant amounts of electricity.
The company also manufacturers more traditional, electrically-driven products, like heated delivery bags that have been deployed by scooter-based delivery drivers outside of North America.
While such a solution might look ideal on paper, there are significant limitations in food delivery settings, as the phase-morphing material can only work their magic one time before needing to be effectively reset or brought back to their original state. Keeping frozen foods cold throughout an eight-hour delivery shift is especially challenging.
Cutting out Cutlery
Los Angeles-based Habits of Waste‘s campaign #CutOutCutlery successfully secured a default setting on both Uber Eats and Postmates apps that required customers to request cutlery as opposed to automatically receiving it. The nonprofit is still attempting to persuade other third-party delivery services, such as GrubHub and DoorDash, to make that change to their default settings that would save millions of plastics from entering the environment every month.
Local restaurants’ take-out/delivery menus, such as Pizza Luce, also include this extra step in their online ordering.
According to Habits of Waste, every year, more than 40 billion pieces of single-use plastic cutlery are produced and discarded as waste. Not only is single-use plastic cutlery not recyclable, it’s ending up in oceans and killing sea life. This practice harms the environment by disrupting the productivity of natural systems and as these plastics break down throughout the years into micro plastics, they end up in our food and drinking water.
If these current trends of plastic waste continue, one study estimates that by 2050, the plastic waste in the ocean will outweigh the fish.
Stopping this practice, the nonprofit says, is a win-win for both restaurants and the environment. Less plastic is produced, restaurants save money and consumers have a choice. Research shows that most people prefer to eat with heavier, metal utensils compared to single-use plastic. This "new normal” would save money and protect the planet without a heavy lift.