A challenge we can all get behind
Last week, the Government of Canada said that plastic bags, straws, stir sticks, cutlery and food trays made from problematic plastics will no longer be welcome in the country by the end of 2021.
This step, while well-intended, will cause concern in online grocers—especially those who ship groceries in single-use plastic bags.
It should also concern anyone working to close the loop in waste. When the government announced the ban, they suggested retailers use recyclable paper alternatives, but this suggestion seems short-sighted. Sustainability experts believe that circular economies (see text box for definition) which prioritize production and delivery processes that generate less waste will be better for the planet. There are also initiatives like the Beyond the Bag Challenge that help industries and communities build circular economies that eliminate or reduce waste, so we don’t replace a bad solution with another one.
What is included in the 2021 ban:
• Grocery checkout bags
• Stir sticks
• Six-pack rings
• Plastic cutlery
• Food takeout containers made from hard-to-recycle plastics (like black plastic packaging)
We at FoodX embraced the circular economy years ago. Now we’re helping big and small retailers stop using single-use plastic bags, too.
SPUD.ca, our sister company and client, has been a model of sustainability in eGrocery for twenty years. As an early adopter of the circular economy, SPUD.ca purchased re-usable bins to pack and deliver groceries to customers. Drivers pick up empty bins along their delivery routes and bring back to the warehouse to be cleaned and prepped for another delivery. They don’t introduce any additional plastic into the process.
The goal of a circular economy is to eliminate waste generated in the exchange of goods and services. It encourages all stakeholders along a supply chain to adopt closed-loop systems which reuse and recover resources.
A closed-loop system is a process of resource recovery and reuse within a transaction, some examples include appliance buy-back options and SPUD.ca’s take-back program.
Using our FoodX eGrocery Management Solution (eGMS) has made their process more efficient, keeping as much waste (plastic) as possible out of the exchange. FoodX upgraded SPUD.ca’s delivery and pick-up operation with software that covers the end-to-end management of an eGrocery fulfillment centre, including tote tracking technology and machine learning for optimized order planning to minimize greenhouse gas emissions.
These tools help SPUD.ca and other retailers deliver groceries sustainably and recover bins effectively. In 2018, Walmart Canada adopted this bagless solution for grocery delivery to its customers. Last month, Carrefour Group announced its partnership with FoodX to enhance its e-commerce capabilities through eGMS to achieve a profitable, scalable and sustainable online business in their markets.
We continue to develop ways to use technology that helps remove waste from operations and recover valuable resources. Our closed-loop eGrocery model combines software and operational methods into a solution that allows any eGrocer to move closer to a zero-waste fulfillment centre, profitably.
Our eGMS can transform the relationships between supply chain, warehouse operations and the customer into one that is healthier for our planet. The transition, which can be integrated into a grocers’ existing systems, is seamless. In just a few months, you can be selling and delivering food to your customers more efficiently, less wastefully and more sustainably.
Our eGMS solution offers a competitive edge, too, because grocers can launch waste reduction initiatives that include their customers as active participants. With the drivers and customers on board, our partners can keep over 98.7% of bins in circulation indefinitely, while taking back certain products that can only be properly recycled with companies like TerraCycle