Food delivery startups have told riders and drivers they can opt out of accepting orders in the face of poor air quality and extreme heat conditions, but the decision to log off will be up to individual contractors.
Extreme temperatures and poor air quality due to bushfire smoke has plagued the east coast over the past month. Melbourne's air quality was the worst in the world on Monday evening as a result of smoke from the state’s firefronts, with advice for even healthy Australians to avoid being outside.
Many Deliveroo drivers make deliveries via bicycle. Credit:James Brickwood
Delivery startups Deliveroo, Uber Eats and Menulog are all continuing to operate with minimal interruptions during this time, though are regularly communicating with delivery contractors about weather conditions and safety measures.
"We will continue to assess the situation and provide up-to-date weather and air quality information to riders," a Deliveroo spokesman said.
Deliveroo, which has a large contingent of delivery contractors who ride bicycles, does have a policy to "close zones if conditions become dangerous for riders", though had not done so at this stage.
Instead, the company said riders should know they can take themselves off orders if safety is a concern in extreme conditions.
"No rider is obliged to work in any one area and a rider can unassign themselves from an order at any time if they feel unsafe," the spokesman said.
Uber Eats said it was in regular contact with its drivers about air quality and health and asked its network to "consider this before going online to deliver".
When asked whether the company would ever pause orders if weather conditions became extreme, an Uber Eats spokesman said the decision to work on the app came down to the individual contractor.
"Delivery partners have control over when, how often and for how long they drive or ride, meaning they can log in and out of the app whenever they choose," the spokesman said.
HelloFresh’s Tom Rutledge said the recipe box startup was watching conditions closely. Credit:Louise Kennerley
Mr Rutledge said he believed extreme weather events of all kinds were something food logistics businesses would have to be "increasingly aware of".
He said the business had worked hard to develop an efficient refrigerated supply chain, but customers were being warned to plan well during periods of extreme heat.
"The best practice advice is to select a [delivery] window to minimise the time that it sits on the doorstep," he said.
Recipe box competitor Marley Spoon said it would also experience some produce interruptions but its business model allowed for quick changes to recipes.
The company said it was adjusting its packaging to maximise food safety during extreme conditions and would encourage later deliveries during hot summers.
Australian Marley Spoon managing director Rolf Weber said the company was providing safety advice and materials to its third-party delivery couriers.
"We work closely with all of our delivery partners to ensure their team members stay safe and are equipped with appropriate protective measures, like masks," he said.
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