Toward the end of this month, the Zero Waste Conference hits Vancouver and will showcase some of the city’s innovative startups disrupting the clean technology space.
Presented by Metro Vancouver and the National Zero Waste Council, the theme of this year’s event is “A Future Without Waste: Regenerative and Waste-Free by Design.”
The two-day event will focus on how entrepreneurs are adapting to address today’s economic, ecological, and social challenges. Organizers say the event is a resource for both businesses and investors, highlighting new economic opportunities and innovations from those on the forefront of the circular economy.
Taking place September 28 and 29, the Zero Waste Conference features some notable local startups. We highlight a handful below.
ChopValue is the brainchild of Felix Böck, a former UBC doctoral student in the faculty of forestry who studied bamboo as a building material. The sustainability brand designs and manufactures circular economy products made entirely of recycled chopsticks.
ChopValue had a strong start to 2021 despite the ongoing pandemic. The company saw record-high sales, expanded their product offering at Nordstrom, and formed new retail partnerships with London Drugs and Hudson’s Bay.
The London Drugs partnership includes chopstick collection bins available at every location and interactive Closed Loop displays at select stores that enable consumers to drop off their used chopsticks and shop a variety of beautiful and sustainable products for the home and office.
In 2021 ChopValue raised a $3.15 million round that included Craig Miller, the former Chief Marketing Officer of e-commerce darling Shopify. ChopValue added strategic microfactory franchise locations in Calgary, Montreal, Singapore, and the Lower Mainland’s Fraser Valley in 2021.
Vancouver clean energy startup Moment Energy raised a $3.5 million seed round in 2021 led by Vancouver’s Version One Ventures with major involvement from Fika Ventures, Garage Capital and MCJ Collective.
Co-founded by four young and diverse entrepreneurs from British Columbia, Moment Energy creates sustainable energy storage systems by repurposing retired electric vehicle batteries. Their solution has been installed in off-grid areas to reduce diesel consumption and enables a transition to renewable energy.
In June Moment Energy was awarded the $100K grand prize as the winner of Spring Activator’s first-ever National Impact Investor Challenge and in October they claimed the $35,000 Innovate BC Third Place Prize Package in the 2021 New Ventures BC Competition.
Reusables’ tech-enabled platform for zero-waste packaging has emerged as an innovative solution to single-use plastic waste since its 2021 launch and has built a large pipeline of opportunities with food retailers and packaging distributors throughout North America.
Stainless steel containers are delivered to a business and used when packaging meals for a participating customer’s takeout or food delivery order—then returned, sanitized, and reused approximately a thousand times, according to the startup. Through its proprietary app, the Reusables team is able to track containers, manage returns, and ensure each container is “cleaned to the highest standard.”
Reusables was cofounded by Hawkins and Anastasia Kiku. The startup is backed by Ryan Holmes and Manny Padda through LOI Venture and is currently raising a seed round to expand its network in the U.S. and Canada.
Sharewares helps businesses like Body Energy Club follow the City’s Single-Use Reduction Strategy, which includes drastically reducing the 440 million disposable cups and takeout containers that hit the landfill each year.
In 2018, 1.1 billion single-use items were thrown away into Metro Vancouver’s landfills “and this has only been amplified during the COVID-19 pandemic,” according to Sharewares. “Many of these items end up leaching toxins, chemicals, and micro-plastics into our environment.”
After borrowing a reusable cup from BEC or other Shareware partner, you can create an account with Sharewares by scanning a QR code on the cup. With an account set up, you can drop the cup off at a variety of return options when you’re finished drinking. From there, Sharewares does all the work: “We’ll pick up, wash, inspect, scan, and refund you through an e-transfer.”
“These freshly cleaned containers will then be redelivered to your favourite cafés and restaurants to be enjoyed again and again,” the company explains.