Yelp launches eco-labels for businesses

Earth Day is approaching on April 22, and businesses are already unleashing a blizzard of virtuous signals. Amazon is helping users plant trees, while Pinterest has pledged to limit climate misinformation.

On Wednesday, Yelp joined them. The company is rolling out a series of eco-friendly business attribute labels to help users find restaurants and stores that meet their environmental standards.

The labels cover a variety of sustainability topics. User searches for whether a company offers plant-based options or has an EV charger increased 56% and 41%, respectively, between 2018 and 2021, the company said, so it created labels for these attributes to make it easier to find places that offer them. at the top. Other labels indicate whether customers are allowed to bring reused take-out containers and whether they can expect reusable utensils or plastic-free packaging.

“Yelp’s new sustainability attributes will make it easier for people to find plastic-free restaurants, bars and cafes and support our values ​​of thriving communities and a healthy, livable planet,” Dianna Cohen, Co-Founder and CEO of Plastic Pollution Coalition, said in a Yelp blog post. Yelp partnered with the coalition, which includes more than 1,200 organizations and businesses in 75 countries, to create the new labels.

The company first announced that it was examining consumer preferences in 2019, as part of a campaign called the “Green Practices Initiative”. The program began by asking customers about their shopping preferences, asking if they had noticed a restaurant providing single-use plastics. Yelp said at the time that it would have decided what to do with the data by the following year, but things seem to have taken a little longer than expected.

Yelp’s tags are a great feature, but whether they affect how its users make choices or how businesses operate is another matter altogether. For one thing, the restaurant industry is changing rapidly, and on-the-go utensil preferences aren’t always a top priority. Basically, anyone who has ordered takeout has had the experience of asking for plastic utensils and not receiving them, or vice versa. Some restaurants are changing the way they deliver takeout based on cheap and available containers, utensils, and straws. In San Francisco, for example, plastic straws are banned – but any San Franciscan can tell you that some restaurants still use plastic when there are supply chain issues or plastic straws are easier to find.

This does not mean that the initiative is a failure. After all, any step towards sustainability is better than nothing. But what is clear is that the world needs real regulations that reduce plastic production in the first place. There are a number of possibilities on this front, ranging from the ban on single-use plastic being effectively enforced, to requiring plastic manufacturing companies to take care of cleaning.

Maine last year passed a bill that would make plastic producers pay for recycling rather than putting the blame on people, while California also passed one that will ban misleading recycling labels. . Strict enforcement could make Yelp’s labels a little less necessary on the plastic front, though it’s always nice to know exactly where you can charge an EV these days (apart from your local Starbucks, of course) .

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