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United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs Sustainable Development

Meituan Waimai Blue Mountain Project

Meituan Waimai (
Private sector

    Blue Mountain Project, the first environmental protection initiative in China’s food delivery sector, was initiated in August 2017 by Meituan Waimai.The project adopts a holistic approach, applying creative techniques to reduce single-use packaging, including packaging reduction at the source, waste collection, recycling and large-scale reuse. The model reduces unnecessary packaging, applies eco-friendly packaging and transforms the disposable material recycling industry. Leveraging its social influence and resources, Meituan raises public awareness of environmental protection, reducing waste and promoting responsible production and consumption.

    Implementation of the Project/Activity

    Meituan Waimai and the China Environmental Protection Foundation (CEPF) jointly set up an expert panel to research environmental protection solutions. It also works with partners to create an eco-friendly food delivery chain in which packaging is simplified from the source and waste is well-sorted and recycled, covering the full circle of operations. The project contributes to building a day-to-day, market-based recycling system for disposable packaging along the industrial chain. In Guangzhou and Shanghai, among other places, such a system has been put in place. The project is also committed to transforming single-use plastic food containers into other useful tools. Meituan Waimai has been working to enhance consumers’ awareness of responsible consumption. Through optimizing its services and operations system, it encourages users to opt out of single-use packaging by launching an “opt-out of disposable cutlery” feature on its app. In 2020, the number of users choosing no single-use packaging increased 120 percent from that of 2019. The project and CEPF set up Blue Mountain Fund, supporting environmental protection organizations to plant and maintain forests in partnership with merchants. As of late 2020, the project’s environmental protection campaigns had reached over 1 billion impressions, and distributed 20 million biodegradable packaging bags, 1 million paper food containers and 10,000 sets of recyclable tableware to merchants; the project also distributed 350,000 pieces of biodegradable packaging in 20 different styles, each developed from the project’s innovative packaging design program, to merchants for free. Lastly, the project attracted 350,000 platform partner merchants to join the Project, and together donated over 14 million yuan for charitable activities.


    The project explores a holistic path to an eco-friendly transformation of the food delivery sector. It blazed new trails in studying environmental impacts of the sector, promoting a joint solution to environmental issues and increasing promotional and educational campaigns. As of the end of 2020, the project had made a list of recommended eco-friendly packaging, the first of its kind in the food delivery sector. It distributed over 20 million bio-degradable and other eco-friendly supplies in cities; over 350 recycling stations have been built in office complexes, communities, campus and stores and during large-scale events. The recycling rate at some stations reached 74%. The Fund planted over 200 hectares of forests and 170,000 saplings, restored around 26.7 hectares of grassland, and increased the variety of 57,000 trees in Yunnan, Gansu and seven other regions. Over 1,800 impoverished families and more than 15,000 people either directly or indirectly benefited from these initiatives.

    Enabling factors and constraints

    Enabling factors: Government has enacted laws and regulations on pollution control, garbage sorting; consumer concerns about environment; partners’ professional support; Meituan Waimai’s broad service network facilitate the initiatives Constraints: Technically, there are no better alternatives for plastic food containers due to the special attributes of Chinese food The ban on plastic packaging and the use of new packaging materials will increase merchants’ packaging costs Project implementation results are limited due to a lack of unified standards on eco-friendly food containers, scattered distribution channels, and low-level recycling systems

    Sustainability and replicability

    Sustainability: The project emphasizes fostering market-based mechanisms and standardized tools, building consensus to support the R&D of new materials and the commercialization of new technologies and products. It designs mechanisms to spur changes in consumer behavior. More and more partners have been involved in eco-friendly packaging, making the initiative highly sustainable. Replicability: the project compiled the Sustainable Merchants Guide to help merchants improve business operations from ingredient supply, food packaging, and efficiency management to back-end processing. The guide can be promoted among other merchants. Meituan also contributed to the formulation and implementation of standards for takeout food containers in Shanghai, and the setting of national standards, including technical requirements for single-use degradable/nondegradable plastic cutlery.

    COVID-19 Impact

    Food delivery services have played an important role in supporting the catering sector throughout the pandemic, in terms of enabling them to continue operations during the special period. Except for the suspension of several offline events, the project remained mostly immune from the effects of the pandemic. During their battle with the pandemic, the food businesses realized the importance and the necessity of going online. Meituan created a special initiative to support the recovery of food merchants and other life services businesses. Brick-and-mortar grocery stores, food markets and pharmacies quickly moved to embrace internet-powered delivery services. They became new partners to the project, but this also complicated the environmental issues plaguing the entire industry.

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    This initiative does not yet fulfil the SMART criteria.
    31 August 2017 (start date)
    31 December 2025 (date of completion)
    Meituan Waimai
    Other beneficiaries

    Beneficiaries: environment, cities, and communities Partners: research institutes including Tsinghua University, Peking University, Beijing Technology and Business University; social organizations including China Environmental Protection Foundation, China Association of Circular Economy; industry business partners such as catering merchants, packaging makers and recycling companies Other stakeholders: government institutions, media and consumers

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