Prior to COVID-19, zero-waste take-out was already challenging. The pandemic made it even harder, with restrictions on the use of personal mugs, take-out boxes and more for sanitation reasons. However, one company is beating the odds and helping local restaurants transform their practices towards circular systems. Today, we are sharing the story of A Friendlier Company, whose vision is to create a centralized, circular system across Canada.
Founded by two University of Waterloo alumni, A Friendlier Company is building a tech-driven, reverse logistics system that makes reusable packaging accessible to local restaurants and food providers. They help food service businesses offer reusable packaging, and allow customers to track their deposits and impact through a mobile app. They are now helping over 35 food service businesses across Kitchener- Waterloo, London, Guelph, and Stratford reduce waste and elevate their takeout experience.
By shifting away from the traditional, linear 'take, make, dispose' based model, to a reuse model, we can reduce waste, resource consumption, and GHG emissions.
Inspiration from around the world
The company was founded by Kayli Dale and Jacquie Hutchings, two graduates of the Chemical Engineering program. They completed most of their co-op terms in process engineering at manufacturing plants, and it wasn’t until later in their undergraduate experience that they became interested in sustainability, after spending a term studying in Sweden. They discovered that North America was behind Europe in terms of sustainability and were inspired by the circular systems they witnessed during their term abroad. When it came time to look for full-time jobs after graduation, they decided to pursue their own venture instead with the goal of making the biggest, positive impact as possible on the planet.
How it works
The process is straightforward: a food service provider connects with Kayli and Jacquie to order containers, they use the containers at their stores (either as an option for customers or mandatory for all orders), and A Friendlier Company sets up a return box to collect the used containers. After they are washed, the containers are returned to the food vendor and the waste-free cycle continues!
On the customer side, they pay a small deposit when they collect their food. When they return the container, they scan their container’s QR code or enter the code manually to connect to the mobile app to be issued a refund Bonus: containers can be returned to any location with a collection bin! Give it a go with their virtual practice (scroll halfway down the page, under the How it Works header).
Their goal is to reach 10,000 containers. They are more than halfway to this goal already – 6,810 of their containers have been used in local stores. In Kitchener-Waterloo, their containers are currently available at Café Pyrus, Seven Shores, Those Pizza Guys, The Three, The Crazy Canuck and Top Market Family Farms – more to come soon!
To learn more about A Friendlier Company, visit their website. If you know a restaurant or food service you would like to see shift towards a circular system, share A Friendlier Company’s story with them! For those concerned about COVID-19, read about their rigorous sanitation practices to keep you and your food safe.
If you have questions for Kayli and Jacquie, reach out through their virtual contact form or email them at email@example.com. If you live outside of their current program area, you can also request their containers be introduced to your city. Be sure to follow them on Instagram @afriendliercompany to stay updated as they add more food service businesses to their program.