Assessing CO2 Emissions of Online Food Delivery in Japan

In Sustainability
Volume (Issue): 15 (10)
Peer-reviewed Article

The COVID-19 pandemic and the subsequent lockdown of cities have led to the rapid growth of online food delivery (OFD). Moreover, there are concerns that OFD platforms may impose offers on users in order to continue to increase their market share, leading to numerous environmental issues such as overconsumption and a significant increase in plastic packaging waste. Most studies have focused on the environmental impacts associated with food packaging and have been mostly limited to China. However, less research has been carried out on the overall CO2 emissions of an OFD order including food. In this study, the CO2 emissions of an OFD order were assessed by considering the production, distribution, consumption and disposal of the ingredients, based on lifecycle thinking and existing secondary data, for three representative food groups (Western food, Japanese food and Chinese food) in Japan. This study found that the food production of an OFD order accounts for more than 70% of the CO2 emissions of the entire process, especially food ingredient production. Policy support and initiatives such as OFD platforms being able to serve different quantities of food based on actual consumer demand to avoid food waste, as well as changes in delivery methods, would help reduce the CO2 emissions of OFD.