Reusable takeout container business gains foothold in London, Ont.

A Friendlier Company was launched in Guelph, Ont., by Jacquie Hutchings and Kayli Dale. via A Friendlier Company/Facebook

A Guelph, Ont.,-based business on a mission to reduce landfill waste through reusable takeout containers has been met with enthusiasm as it expands further into southern Ontario, including in London.

At least eight businesses in London are currently working with A Friendlier Company to offer reusable takeout containers through their restaurants, cafes, grocery stores, and food delivery services.

“We first heard about A Friendlier Company through Reimagine Co. Groceries and knew we had to use it for our microgreens company,” says Carly Ellah from Fresh Living Foods.

“We love the reusable container program and have had amazing responses from our customers. Roughly 90 per cent of our customers choose the reusable container option at checkout.”

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Sidetrack: A Wortley Café recently started working with A Friendlier Company, with co-owner Richie Bloomfield calling it a “natural next step as our industry reconsiders the ‘necessity’ of single-use packaging.”

Bloomfield, who co-owns the cafe with Mano Majumdar, says they’ve been composting their coffee grinds for nearly a year and “are always looking for effective ways to lessen our environmental impact.”

“Our customers are enjoying the benefits, which beyond being kind to the Earth also includes keeping product fresher than paper boxes,” Bloomfield adds.

Ellah also pointed to the quality of the containers, which she says keep their microgreens fresh and “greatly reduces our plastic waste.”

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“A Friendlier Company makes using these containers easy for businesses and we would highly recommend them to any business in need of a sustainable container option.”

The business itself was created by two graduates of the University of Waterloo’s chemical engineering program, Kayli Dale and Jacquie Hutchings.

“We wanted to make it similar to what people already know and so our system is kind of like The Beer Store,” Hutchings told Global News.

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At the point of purchase, there’s either a 50 cent or $1 deposit charge and once the customer is finished with the container they can use their smartphone to scan the QR code at the bottom of the container and drop it off into a collection bin.

Once the container is back in the hands of A Friendlier Company, the deposit is refunded directly into the customer’s bank account.

“You can drop it off at the same restaurant that you purchased the container at, or you can go to any restaurant or participating location that’s closest to you. We go and pick up those containers once a week from those restaurants and we take them back to be washed and sanitized,” Hutchings says.

The containers can be sanitized and reused up to 100 times.

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Hutchings adds that the idea was in the works before the pandemic, but they initially planned to work with event venues “where people are generating a lot of food packaging and cup waste.”

“Obviously, when the pandemic hit, there were no more event venues that we could be attending so we had to completely pivot our idea and switch from a closed environment to a more open environment where people are getting takeout containers sent to their home,” she explains.

“We had to make lots of modifications to our system and how we’re actually facilitating it but it really forced us to step outside of our comfort zone and create something that could work in any  environment.”

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In addition to Guelph-Wellington, London and Grand Bend, A Friendlier Company has participating businesses in the Kitchener-Waterloo region, Stratford, and Hamilton.

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“We want to completely abolish disposable packaging,” says Hutchings.

“We’re growing rapidly and we’re excited to see a future where everything is reusable.”

— with files from Global News’ Matt Carty.

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