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Toronto restaurants are on their way to becoming environmentally Friendlier thanks to an innovative startup with the potential to revolutionize, in the greenest way possible, takeout and delivery packaging.
Kayli Dale and Jacquie Hutchings met during their first-ever lecture at the University of Waterloo and became fast friends as they worked towards degrees in Chemical Engineering. Despite enthusiasm for their studies, co-op stints left them disappointed by what they perceived as corporate Canada’s seeming lack of sustainable initiative.
In 2019, an eye-opening third-year semester abroad in Sweden exposed the friends to some of Scandinavia's enlightened environmental practices, and turned them into eco-entrepeneurs. Back in Ontario, before they had even graduated, Dale and Hutchings had founded Friendlier, a company fueled by the belief that it’s “time to be Friendlier to our planet.”
Their sustainable scheme was quite simple: create a reusable packaging system for food businesses that could replace single-use toss-away containers. Available in a multitude of shapes and sizes, Friendlier’s reusable containers are proudly Made in Ontario, using 24 per cent less energy than their potentially polluting single-use brethren.
The Friendlier system is as user-friendly as it is eco-friendly. Customers start by downloading a free Friendlier app. When ordering food online, you add a deposit via the platform, which you get back upon returning used containers to any participating restaurant. Those squeamish about “sharing” can take comfort in the fact that Friendlier containers are sanitized in dishwashers whose high temperatures kill 99.9999% of viruses and bacteria.
As for participating restaurants, there are more of them all the time. The first restaurant that pledged to be Friendlier, in November of 2020, was the Cornerstone in Guelph (where the company launched its operations). A year later, Earlscourt BBQ became the first restaurant in Toronto to get with the system. Since then, numerous food-related businesses across the city have signed up, among them By The Way, The Sweet Potato, Fiorentina, Evelyn’s Crackers and Sanagan’s Meat Locker. To date, more than 100 other food businesses across southern Ontario have decided to become Friendlier.
Such growth has earned the ambitious startup the title of fastest growing reusable packaging company in the country. It’s also given the founders more faith in a Friendlier future. As Jacqui Hutchings confesses, “If you ask me about my outlook on the environment, I am no longer pessimistic. I have witnessed the power of people and their capacity for change.”