Last year, workers in Britain used almost 11 billion items of waste, according to the environmental charity Hubbub. An average lunch included four separate items with 76% of shoppers picking up an item such as a boxed sandwich, 70% a packet of crisps and 64% a napkin.

It’s big business — costing the nation £13.65 million every year  and it doesn’t look like it’s stopping: 64% of people said they buy their lunch out more than they did five years ago.

And while the problem has escalated, the systems to deal with waste have not necessarily kept up.

Recycling is often confusing or inaccessible. Booming food delivery services in the UK have contributed both to an increase in plastic use and carbon emissions. And our food habit is equally inefficient: 250,000 tonnes of edible food is sent to the landfill every year.

But given an increase in public awareness — this month is Plastic Free July — companies are looking to service design to realise solutions, from smarter recycling systems at airports to subscription services transforming takeaways.

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