Local business saves 85,000 single-use bowls
6 August 2019 at 7:30 am
Next time you eat takeaway food in Melbourne, enjoy your meal in a returnable stainless steel bowl designed by a local business that City of Melbourne supported with a small business grant.
Returnr is a pioneering borrow-a-bowl business that aims to eliminate single-use takeaway food packaging in Melbourne and beyond.
During its trial period, the custom-designed container helped divert more than 85,000 single-use plastic bowls from landfill.
Crisp, Bluebag and Belles Hot Chicken are among the first City of Melbourne businesses to come on board with Returnr, with more signing up daily.
Jamie Forsyth, who not only founded Returnr but also KeepCup and eco-friendly lunchbowl BeetBox, aims to provide a service that is so simple and easy to use that it fully replaces single-use packaging.
“It’s a share scheme where customers don’t buy, they borrow. For customers, it’s free to use. A security deposit of $6 is collected, which is fully refundable when customers return the item,” Forsyth said.
“It’s like using a supermarket trolley where you insert a coin to use and have it refunded when it is returned. It’s simple, transparent and free.”
It’s common not to have your own reusable container on hand when you need it. Returnr allows customers to simply borrow another bowl and return the extra one the next day.
With a cup suitable for coffee, juices and smoothies being released this month, there will be even more opportunities to use Returnr, including when you use a drive-through, pre-order app, or delivery service like Deliveroo.
“You can return what you’ve borrowed when convenient. Use it for a day, a week, a month – just don’t leave the product idle in a cupboard or office kitchenette,” Forsyth said.
“To achieve the best environmental outcomes, we want fewer items (less materials and embodied energy) to be used more times.”
Apply for a small business grant
At City of Melbourne, we help passionate, innovative small businesses realise their dreams and reach new markets through our small business grants program.
The final round of applications for 2019 is open from Monday 5 August to Monday 9 September. During this round, an extra $100,000 will be available for proposals that focus on waste reduction.
Councillor Susan Riley, chair of the small business, retail and hospitality portfolio, said Returnr was one of many small business success stories that showcased Melbourne as a global leader in innovation, design and technology.
“Since our small business grants program began in 1996, we have supported almost 400 small businesses with more than $8.3 million in funding,” Cr Riley said.
“Between 2006 and 2016 alone, grants helped local businesses generate $71 million of gross turnover, $58 million of equity investment, $3 million of export earnings and more than 900 jobs.
“These are incredible numbers and a testament to why supporting small businesses is so vital. Small businesses are the lifeblood of Melbourne, and we will continue to help them prosper and go global.”
Receiving a small business grant helped Forsyth evolve his business, and he has a determined vision for the future.
“The financial leg up of the grant is nice, but the tip of the hat to your idea is enduring. It’s a defining point in time when the only path is forward,”Forsyth said.
“Sustainable takeaway packaging is not a trend, so it’s not an issue that you can choose to ignore or opt out of.
“As environmental issues affect us all we need to support actions on all levels, as individuals, businesses and government.”
Jamie encourages businesses looking to reduce waste to join Returnr’s corporate program.
To find out more, visit small business grants program.