Melbourne businesses setting a benchmark for innovation

Published: 23 December 2020

Businesses throughout Victoria are embracing the global trend to ‘go circular’ – particularly when it comes to reusable food and drink packaging. But one such innovator is upping the ante to bring their reusable packaging service directly to the home.

Entrepreneur Jamie Forsyth is already well known for his business Returnr, which allows people eating out in Melbourne to swap single-use food and drink packaging with reusable containers, that are borrowed and returned to cafes in the Returnr network. Jamie is now building on the success of the Returnr model with the launch of an ambitious new arm to the business, Returnr Marketplace. The new service aims to provide a one-stop, online waste-free shop, featuring carefully curated local produce, pantry items, meals, and even alcohol – all delivered to consumers’ doors in reusable containers.

“Our mission is to normalise reuse. For this to happen, it needs to be as convenient as possible to do in your everyday shop,” Jamie said.

For a few dollars a month, you’ll be able to borrow as many Returnr containers as you need, ensuring that your shop remains waste-free. And when you’re done, Returnr Marketplace will take of your empty containers too.

The great news is that Returnr is not the only business focussed on reducing our reliance on single-use packaging.

Retail giant Woolworths is also joining the global trend. The supermarket recently announced a partnership with Loop to test a new reusable packaging system for supermarket shoppers. The system will enable shoppers to buy their favourite products in reusable containers. The containers can then be returned to a local store or picked up during the next delivery.

Appropriately named Zero Co is another innovative business with a zero-waste focus. The company encourages us to join the “great Aussie plastic purge and wave bye-bye to single-use plastic from your kitchen, laundry and bathroom.” In addition to reducing waste, Zero Co is meeting the growing demand for ‘low-tox’ and ‘eco-friendly’ products, such as laundry powder and dishwashing liquid.

While it has been some time since any of us has attended a live event, if you’re off to a ticketed New Year event offering reusable cups, chances are strong that the cups would be provided by bettercup. The Melbourne brand has been operating in this space for some time, servicing private and public events with its reusable cup service. As regular event and music festival goers, the founders wanted to do something about the large volumes of waste generated at events.

So, in summary, there’s a lot to be excited about in the reusable packaging space. Whether you’re a business owner, a consumer, or just passionate about sustainability, we can all play our part in this transition to a circular economy.

Got an idea, or interested in innovating within your own business model? Check out available opportunities for funding and support.