A Friendlier Company mitigates the environmental impact of single-use plastics and disposable containers in the restaurant industry
While students at the University of Waterloo, Jacqueline Hutchings and Kayli Dale had the opportunity to partake in a variety of chemical engineering co-op terms. While meaningful experiences, they left unfulfilled by the work as they were not able to apply their passion for the environment in those roles. After graduation, Jacqueline and Kayli wanted to do something together that would have an impact on the environment, and they would feel good about doing. They started with the idea of a returnable cup program for event venues and named their venture A Friendlier Company. When COVID-19 hit, Jacqueline and Kayli needed to pivot their idea as large events were no longer taking place. With the increase in demand for take-out and single-use plastics, the two embraced a new opportunity for reusable take-out containers.
Jacqueline and Kayli wanted to launch their product in Guelph. After much research, they came across the Seeding Our Food Future program. Once accepted, Jacqueline and Kayli decided to first partner with The SEED and integrate the returnable container model with The SEED’s meal delivery services. A Friendlier Co. launched with The SEED in early September supplying them with containers and have now started reselling their reused containers. Typically, to obtain a reusable container you would pay a small deposit fee, but A Friendlier Co. decided not to implement the financial incentive for The SEED as they are a non-profit. Each week when The SEED delivers a meal, they pick up the empty containers from the previous week and A Friendlier Co. comes to collect the containers. The containers are then washed, sanitized, and repackaged at the University of Guelph and sold back to The SEED to create a closed-loop system. In October, A Friendlier Co. expanded to 7 other businesses in the Guelph-Wellington area including The Cornerstone, Corner Market Guelph, Carbon Café, Dar’s Market, Frabert’s Market, and Ambiances Gourmandes, The Wooly Pub, and Lady Sara’s Bounty. The retailers supply their food in A Friendlier Co.’s containers adding a small deposit onto the price, and then when people receive the food, they get their deposit back by scanning the individual QR code on the bottom of every container. Containers can be returned to any participating location regardless of where they purchased their meal. from A Friendlier Co. makes it easy for people to reuse without the hassle of bringing in their own container.
Circularity to Jacqueline and Kayli is about a system where you minimize the inputs and outputs required and optimize what is already available in the supply chain. A Friendlier Co. keep their take-out containers in circulation, so they do not have to keep buying containers or manufacturing more, so they can keep what is already in the system. A Friendlier Co. is utilizing the total value of the products lifespan before disposing. Any defective container or container at the end of its life can be recycled and turned into something new. When the containers are at the end of their lives, A Friendlier Co. will then send them to a facility in Brantford that specializes in the recycling of these specific plastics.
A Friendlier Co. is looking for more restaurants to partner with and encourages everyone to download their app “A Friendlier Company” available on the Apple App Store and Google Play to make reusing simpler and more effective.
Photo by Kei Scampa from Pexels