Well, it’s officially been 1 year since Friendlier (then A Friendlier Company) started operating with our first restaurant, the Cornerstone in Guelph. I still remember shrieking with glee as Jacquie and I got back into our car, after the owner Mark Rodford, gave us the green light to get started.
Starting a business in the middle of the pandemic was a weird concept for a lot of people. We got asked a lot of questions like, why now? And for our business in particular, why would anyone want to use reusables during the pandemic? Some people would just laugh when we told them our idea, and inform us that it would never work. This was our first big YES, and we were so excited for the chance to prove ourselves.
In the first few months of operations, we were very scrappy. Jacquie would ride her bike to the restaurants, throw the bag of returned containers over her shoulder like Santa Clause, and ride back to the University of Guelph, where we were graciously offered space to dish wash. Every Saturday morning, we’d be there at 8am washing. It started with 15 minutes of dishwashing a week, then 1 hour, then before we knew it we were working for 12 hours on dishwashing day. We quickly reached the point where we couldn’t get all of our dishwashing done, and invested in our own dedicated commercial dishwashing facility. Our facility is now home to an amazing team of dishwashers, who work incredibly hard to maintain the highest sanitation standards.
Since launching last November, we’ve grown to support over 60 brands across Ontario, and more importantly, have reused over 50,000 packages. That’s equivalent to 6,400 lbs of waste and 18,500 lbs of CO2 emissions! The response we’ve received from restaurants and their customers has been overwhelming, and it’s been so inspiring to see their passion for sustainability.
The impact we’ve made so far is proof that every small action counts. Every container and cup returned to us resulted in the whopping 50,000 products diverted from landfill. And we’re just getting started.
Looking forward to the next year of growth, Friendlier is poised to disrupt the single-use packaging industry across Canada. We are building the next generation of packaging, based on a circular model that minimizes raw materials, energy to manufacture and transport, and waste.