No-waste Food To Go: Use Your Smartphone to Ditch Unnecessary Packaging


Designers Andreas Eiken and Kieran Wallace have created Sustainer, a resealable container and accompanying app, to try and get people to think more sustainably when ordering take-away food.

Author Anna Rees, 01.21.16

Designers Andreas Eiken and Kieran Wallace have created Sustainer, a resealable container and accompanying app, to try and get people to think more sustainably when ordering take-away food.

I am not going to lie, I love take-away food. Because I love cooking and try to keep my expenses down, I don’t partake in ordering to go that often but nonetheless, I still think it’s pretty great. What’s not so great? The amount of waste ordering take-away generates, specifically packaging, like polystyrene, that can be difficult to recycle.

In light of this, designers Andreas Eiken and Kieran Wallace have developed a product, Sustainer, they hope will encourage people to bring their own container with them when ordering out. Sustainer comprises a rather cute compact ‘bag’ made of silicon that has a roll top (much like bicycle bags do). The design specifically looks to keep food fresh and prevent leaks. The accompanying app allows users to pinpoint their favourite, most-frequented eateries. Every time they enter one of these restaurants, they are prompted via the app to use their Sustainer bag. If they forgot it, they can set a reminder for next time.

Non-recyclable waste from take-away packaging is a problem. Last year, Oxford became the first city in the UK to ban the use of non-recyclable plastic food containers. The move followed in the footsteps of a number of cities in the US that have implemented a similar rule such as Seattle, San Francisco as well as New York City where over 28,000 tonnes of polystyrene waste was collected in 2014 alone (it should be noted that New York City overturned the ban in late 2015).

© Sustainer

For some, it may be hard to get one’s head around bringing your own food container with you, even when prompted to do so by your phone. To counter this, the designers (rightfully) call upon the behaviour of bringing shopping bags from home so as not to use plastic bags – if we can get our heads around the idea of bringing our own carry bags with us to the shops, surely it’s not too much of a jump to do the same for take-away food? And, to take the BYOB (bring your own bag) analogy one step further, a 2014 study conducted by the Harvard Business Review found that shoppers who brought their own bags to grocery stores were more inclined to shop ‘green’ once at the store. Could the same apply to bringing your take-away container i.e. would people who bring their take-away container be more inclined to eat sustainably-sourced food or even bike or walk to the shops instead of drive? It remains to be seen but it’s certainly food for thought (bad pun intended).

One of the great things about this project is that Eiken has completely tracked the process from concept to final stages giving an insight into the problem it’s looking to tackle as well as, crucially, providing some inspiration to others interested in developing ideas that support sustainability. Right now, the concept for Sustainer is complete and the designers are looking into whether there is enough interest to produce it on a commercial scale.

Head to Eiken’s page to learn about about Sustainer or check out the jaunty video below:

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