As the City of Vancouver begins implementing its new Single-Use Reduction Strategy, the hospitality industry must adhere to new policies aimed at drastically reducing the 441 million disposable cups and takeout containers that usually hit the landfill each year.
Vancouver’s ShareWares aims to be a key partner in reducing that waste.
Launched as the pandemic pivot of a business struggling to stay afloat during the COVID lockdown, ShareWares has innovated citywide sharing/borrowing systems for reusable packaging to now be accessible, inclusive, and rapidly scalable.
They aim to do so by making reusable packaging borrowing services convenient and accessible so borrowing becomes the default choice for all packaging selection.
Cafes partnered with ShareWares can offer customers a sustainable option if they forget their reusable mug and customers can opt to borrow a ShareWares reusable cup to save the $0.25 fee while feeling good about saving a cup from going to the landfill.
“We believe the end of our world’s single-use waste crisis is within reach,” says ShareWares founder Cody Irwin. “Our mission is to build a platform to empower any city to process millions of reusable containers each day. This will end the need for single-use items across all industries.”
Irwin, a McGill University Mechanical Engineering graduate, started his first venture, Natural Source (a corporate food services for technology companies), after completing his studies. It became a local industry leader until the pandemic hit, forcing office closures and evaporating their client base overnight.
“I had to pivot fast,” says Irwin, “and I started by evaluating my company’s resources and how they could be repurposed for a new compelling service.”
Irwin’s new business participated in Synergy Foundation’s Project Zero incubator program dedicated to nurturing early-stage entrepreneurs in the circular economy.
Synergy’s Executive Director Jill Doucette says “through the Project Zero Incubator Program, we witnessed ShareWares grow and develop a robust business model. We are confident they will be a disrupter in the takeout packaging space and help us avoid millions of single-use plastic items every year.”
ShareWares is now in discussions with numerous SME’s as well as large international brands to supply and wash tech-enabled reusable packaging, and is forecasted to triple its client base in January 2022.
Vancouver is home to a number of startups encouraging reusable cups and containers.
Mugshare is a social impact program that provides a safe, reusable alternative to single-use cups through a convenient deposit-return system. Reusables.com supplies restaurants and food businesses with reusable containers that customers can select as a more sustainable alternative to single-use packaging.