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Local Zehrs to test Guelph company’s reusable food containers

The reusable container company that launched in 2020 has taken a big step forward
Guelph's four Zehrs grocery stores are test piloting reusable food containers from Friendlier, a Guelph-based company.

In an effort to help meet its public environmental pledges, local Zehrs grocery stores are test piloting reusable take-home food containers from Guelph’s Friendlier.  

The reusable container company from Jacquie Hutchings and Kayli Dale launched during 2020 in Guelph, offering reusable take-out containers at a number of restaurants, and have expanded the idea to several other communities.

For the six-month project, reusable containers are available for customers buying prepared meals at each of the four Zehrs locations in the city, though there’s no obligation to participate. 

A deposit put down on reusable containers is refunded once they're returned. Containers are then sanitized and recirculated.

“It’s incredible. We’ve kind of dreamed of this since we started,” Friendlier co-founder Jacquie Hutchings said of the pilot project. “We’ve traditionally worked with a lot of restaurants.

“It just shows that you can reuse in all different areas, it’s not limited to just restaurants.”

The pilot project with Zehrs started on Wednesday and runs into the fall, Hutchings said.

In a news release, officials from Loblaw, which includes Zehrs stores, said the project is part of the company’s commitment to making all plastic packing recyclable or reusable by 2025, along with cutting carbon emissions in half by 2030.

“Customers will have the option to purchase their prepared meals from the full-service hot and cold cases in reusable containers, as an alternative to the traditional disposable takeaway packaging,” states the release. “This reusable program is an opportunity to help reduce the use of single-use plastics in the industry and the associated negative environmental impact plastics have.”

In addition, Hutchings noted, the grocery store locations are acting as drop-off spots for Friendlier containers obtained elsewhere.

“It’s super convenient to have our containers in (Zehrs) because people go there regularly, so if they go to a restaurant and get takeout, they can go to their grocery store and return it there,” she said.

Friendlier’s containers have previously been featured in pilot projects involving food sales during a Guelph Storm game and a Skip The Dishes initiative.

“We definitely have made it part of our strategy to try out different areas to see where re-use fits best,” said Hutchings. “We really want to see how people are responding.

“As a whole, our mission as a company is to see society transition from single-use to reusable packaging. … We want to show that it is possible and to facilitate that.”

For more information about Friendlier,