Montreal business aims to reduce waste with reusable takeout containers

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Montreal company launches reusable container initiative
Watch: Reducing waste has become a popular New Year's resolution. A local company in Montreal is aiming to help people fulfill that goal this year with their reusable container initiative. Global’s Gloria Henriquez explains – Jan 2, 2023

Reducing waste has become a popular New Year’s resolution and will soon become a requirement in Montreal. A local company is aiming to help people fulfill that resolution with an initiative that is keeping thousands of food containers out of landfills.

Making beautiful and delicious pastries is a priority for Chef Marc-Olivier Gendron — so is his carbon foot print.

“Environment has always been a priority, we started this business in 2019, it’s vegan which means we’re trying to lower the impact on the environment as much as possible,” Gendron, the owner of Vegâteau said.

Gendron also offers his clients the option to opt for reusable takeout containers at no additional cost.

The program is called Bopaq, run by Bo, a company working with local food service partners.

“I think it’s great,” said Vegâteau customer Cristian Velasco.

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Read more: Montreal to ban single-use plastics by 2023

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The service is free to use as long as the Bo containers are returned within 14 days. If you decide to keep the containers past the due date, they are then charged to your account based on the retail price of each format.

All you need is to sign up through the web app to obtain a personal code. The service provider scans your container and your personal code, which keeps track of the items you borrowed.

There are 15 different points across the Plateau and Mile-End area.

Bo picks up the containers weekly to return to the warehouse where they are power-washed and ready to be distributed and used again.

“Restaurants save money on the cost-per-use, they have a better presentation because they’re using products built for 1,000 uses,” said Mishel Wong, the founder of Bo.

Wong says 30 restaurants are already testing the program.

So far, she estimates that in the past year, its containers have been borrowed over 3,000 times.

READ MORE: Quebec to step up recycling capacity with 7 pilot projects

The company offers reusable containers and solutions for catering services for the film industry and retirement homes.

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They also offer a power wash service to companies such as Lufa Farms with its crates and plastic cups used at events.

“It’s super exciting,” Wong said. “It’s a great time to test out different systems that might work for everybody and for reuse to become mainstream.”

And soon things will, as the city of Montreal is banning single-use plastics in March. The ban includes Styrofoam cups and take-out containers.

“In about 30 years, there will be 10 times more single-use plastic if we don’t do anything,” said Karel Ménard, the executive director of the Quebec Coalition for Ecological Waste Management. “So it’s very important to stop using single-use plastic and I would say single-use items.”

Ménard says initiatives like Bo are are a good step in the right direction.

Meanwhile Wong says her next step is developing locally-produced “Bo cups” for coffee and drinks. They also develop custom-made solutions for businesses.


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