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Guelph company partners with Skip The Dishes to promote reusable food containers

A Friendlier Company looks to lessen the impact of take-out containers on the environment

Guelph-based start-up A Friendlier Company (AFC), is looking to take its reusable container program to the next level thanks to a pilot project with Skip The Dishes.

“When a customer orders a meal through one of participating restaurants on Skip they will be prompted to select a reusable takeout container and add a small refundable deposit to their bill,” said co-founder Jacquie Hutchings, who started the business with Kayli Dale.

Customers who opt-in to the reusable containers option can return the containers and can access and collect their deposit back within a week to a week and a half.

“They can enjoy the meal wherever they like, and when they are finished, they are encouraged to download the free A Friendlier Company mobile app and scan the QR code on the bottom of the container,” said Hutchings. "Once scanned, they can return the container to any participating location at their convenience, and we will return their deposit to them through our mobile app.”

Launched on May 1, a total of six restaurants began offering A Friendlier Company's containers through their Skip the Dishes platform, with restaurants ranging from Guelph to London.

The Wooly Pub is the first Guelph-based restaurant to offer these reusable food containers through Skip the Dishes.

The five other restaurants to participate include The Crazy Canuck in Kitchener, Mercer Beer Hall in Stratford, Pazzo Pizzeria in Stratford, The Pulp in Stratford and Sidetrack Cafe in London.

A quote attributed to Skip the Dishes provided by A Friendlier Company in a news release reads: “SkipTheDishes is thrilled to launch our partnership with AFC to reduce single-use plastics and better the environment with reusable packaging. As Canadians look for new ways to reduce waste, Skip looks to be a valuable delivery partner as AFC launches in new cities across Ontario.”

And while the Guelph-based company has begun to make an impact locally, the company’s founders’ say they had to send multiple emails before someone at Skip the Dishes took notice and gave them a meeting.

After multiple meetings, the two companies partnered for the pilot project which is currently underway.

“It was a lot of kind of cold emailing and just hoping that someone would see our project and kind of take the leap of faith with us,” said Hutchings. “They were super excited by it, and they really wanted to get everyone on board, so we had a lot of really good meetings with this skip team and then it just kind of all fell into place.”

The choice to make the reusable containers mandatory or optional is left up to the restaurant, passing the final decision onto the customer if they would like to elect to receive their takeout in the reusable container.

If customers choose the reusable container option a deposit cost will be added onto the cost of the meal, and if single-use is chosen no deposit will appear on the bill.

A Friendlier Company provides the participating businesses with reusable food take-out containers, collecting a deposit fee of $0.50 for most sizes except for the largest container which is $1.00.

As of June 9, A Friendlier Company has seen 9,546 reusable food take-out container uses.

“This milestone is extremely exciting for both myself and Kayli. Up until this point we have had many people question the system and whether or not people would actually care enough to return a takeout container,” said Hutchings.

She added, “This milestone proves that people do want change. In our short time of being operational, we have managed to collect, sanitize and redistribute almost 10,000 containers, and our returns are only growing higher and higher.”

The containers are manufactured in Ontario and are made with 24 per cent less energy than a plastic disposable takeout container. 

They are also recycled at their end of life.

“This means that these containers are better than disposable plastic containers after only one use. Every time we reuse the containers we drive the impact even lower,” said Hutchings.