CEBIC in partnership with Boomerang Labs, recently hosted a pitch showcase for key circular economy industry stakeholders and partners to hear about the groundbreaking work of 8 startups.
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On Thursday 28 July, the Circular Economy Business Innovation Centre (CEBIC), in partnership with Boomerang Labs, hosted a pitch showcase at Sustainability Victoria. This was an opportunity for key circular economy industry stakeholders and partners to hear about the groundbreaking work of the Boomerang Labs 2022 accelerator cohort.
Boomerang Labs exists to help the best startups deploy their circular economy solutions. They run a 6-month long startup accelerator program which provides critical capacity building support in the form of workshops, mentoring, coaching and networking. This support helps these emerging businesses build their foundations, foster key partnerships and raise capital investment to scale.
Startups are based in NSW, ACT and VIC. One of them, GrainOut, is a CEBIC grantee from the Circular Economy Innovation Fund.
With startups spanning the themes of furniture, fashion, packaging and organic waste, the program cohort targets several core challenges of a circular economy transition.
Read more about the 8 presenters and their pioneering circular solutions below.
Co-founders: David Sivyer and Christina Robberds.
Feedback Organic is a circular economy business based around urban farms, offering a closed loop of food-waste-into-food driven by local communities.
Founder: Amelia Crook.
Ownershift partners with Australia’s most innovative fashion brands to enable their take-back program and branded re-commerce store
Founder: Patrick Manley.
Cercle establishes circular systems that negate the need for single use waste in busy CBD environments by understanding human behaviour and introducing convenience-based reuse.
Co-Founders: Danling Xiao and Anett Petrovics.
ReCo is a local refill delivery service to help consumers reduce plastic waste and carbon emissions. They use a local delivery and collection system by offering refills in reusable jars. They refill a range of products from established brands, including eco-friendly cleaning products, organic dried foods and health supplements.
Founder: Seamus O’Sullivan.
GrainOut manages food and by-product waste. Find out more about GrainOut and their CEBIC Circular Economy Innovation Grant funded project on reducing food waste in manufacturing by developing food products.
Co-founders: Josie Grenfell and Annabel Schweiger.
Food2Soil processes commercial food waste using biotechnology, producing a high quality, biologically live liquid fertiliser and soil conditioner, a “kombucha” for plants and soil.
Founder: Justin Hatchett.
Green Furniture Hub redirects surplus office furniture and fit-out items from real estate projects away from landfill to other organisations.
Founder: Paul Levins.
EverCase solves big problems in the cold supply chain that industry have endured since commercial freezing was invented almost 160 years ago. ‘EverCase’ freezes food without ice crystal formation.
Boomerang Labs Accelerator Showcase Melbourne
Thursday, 28 July 2022
Green Furniture Hub
[The visuals during this webinar are of each speaker presenting from lectern on stage whilst other speakers are seated (David Sivyer, Amelia Crook and Patrick Manley appearing via video), with reference to PowerPoint presentations being played on screen]
Hi. Good afternoon everyone. My name’s Emily Jones and I’m the team leader of the Circular Economy Business Innovation Centre at Sustainability Victoria. I have met a few of you in the room so it’s good to also see some new faces too.
Let’s begin with an acknowledgment of country. I acknowledge the traditional owners of the lands upon which I am based today, the Wurundjeri people of the Kulin nations, and pay my respects to their Elders past, present and emerging. I also pay my respects to the traditional custodians of the lands from which you are joining us today online, for those little dots there. I acknowledge that we live and work on the lands of the world’s oldest and most sustainable culture. I acknowledge the deep connection to earth of the First Nations peoples over the past 60,000 years – a long time – and their invaluable contributions to our understanding of climate change and the environment.
So welcome everyone to Sustainability Victoria’s offices for this wonderful event with Boomerang Labs. It’s great to be hosting nine brilliant start-ups spanning across furniture, fashion, packaging and organic waste, targeting several core challenges of a circular economy transition. I’m looking forward to some no doubt inspiring pitches that we’re about to hear.
So Sustainability Victoria’s purpose is to accelerate Victoria’s transition to a circular, climate resilient, clean economy and this afternoon we are delighted to bring stakeholders in our community together who are helping us to achieve this purpose for an afternoon of inspiration, connecting and sharing.
The Victorian Government’s policy to enable a circular economy is called Recycling Victoria, A New Economy, which includes a $380 million investment to transform our waste and recovery sector. The ten year policy and action plan includes a breadth of plans such as the kerbside reform which you probably have noticed a few more bins, developing stronger recycling oversight, rules to cut waste, waste to energy, hazardous waste management, reducing business waste, investing in priority infrastructure, supporting for local communities and councils and behaviour change.
This policy is the first step towards a circular economy and while we continue to deliver this program we are actively working on what comes next. At SV our strategy is called SV 2030 and it provides an outline of how we achieve this transition. It comes with some pretty ambitious targets. By 2030 we are hoping to achieve the creation of 3,900 new jobs in the circular economy, leveraging over $300 million of investment in Victoria’s circular economy, 80% of resources to be recovered for further value adding, a 15% reduction in the total waste generated per capita, and 45% to 50% reduction in emissions compared to 2005 levels.
We action on this purpose by targeting three focus areas and they are investment and innovation, behaviour change and education and community action. One of our key programs to support the business transition is the Circular Economy Business Innovation Centre or the CEBIC as we like to call it. This is a virtual centre which you can find at CEBIC.vic.gov.au. And they exist to support businesses to innovate and implement circular economy opportunities and business models. It’s a centre that is designed to be continually adapting based on business and industry needs. And whether you’re in the thick of circularity or just starting to think about it you can connect and engage with us by attending and participating in events such as today, visiting our website to see the latest circular news, case studies and research, getting one on one advice or sharing your intel by booking a chat with a CEBIC representative – and you can do that online – or applying for our funding.
If you haven’t already I strongly recommend going to our website and subscribing to keep up to date with all that CEBIC is up to.
So collaboration is one of the key drivers for us to achieve meaningful impact and it’s important we take the time to come together like this to not only hear about these wonderful start-up innovations and meet each other but to also draw on those collaboration possibilities to bring ideas to life.
I’ll now hand over to Anna Minns, the co-founder and CEO of Boomerang Labs, to take things from here. Thanks.
Great. Thanks very much Emily. I’d also like to acknowledge the traditional owners of the land on which we meet and their Elders past, present and emerging.
My name’s Anna Minns and I’m from Boomerang Labs. It’s great to see you all here today. There’s been a lot of hype leading up to today. A lot of excitement. People have been waiting a really, really long time. It’s been a long time in the making. Finally Scott and Charlene return to Ramsay Street tonight. So it’s a big day. It’s a big day.
It’s also a big day because we’re having our start-up showcase today. And at Boomerang Labs we’re Australia’s first circular economy accelerator and we’re here to back creative people, people who have come up with a better and different way to do things and have taken the risk to start a circular business to help in the transition to a circular economy. And look being an entrepreneur it’s really hard. It takes money, time, there’s the constant fear of failure, it takes a lot of willpower. I mean for example Elon Musk said that being an entrepreneur is like rubbing glass in your eyes while staring into the abyss. So it’s not easy.
And at Boomerang Labs we’re really pleased that we’re supporting these start-ups who have seen a better and a different way to do things and that have come up with business models that design out waste, that keep resources in constant use and help us build a regenerative economy. So we think you will really enjoy this afternoon, probably even more than you’ll enjoy the Neighbours reunion.
I want to thank Sustainability Victoria for hosting this event today. They’ve been really generous and we’re really pleased to partner with them on this event. Thanks to the team.
So how it will work is we have eight start-ups pitching. They’re each allocated ten minutes. The first six minutes is the pitch and then there will be up to four minutes of questions. So we may not get through many questions but we’ll keep it going every ten minutes. And at the end SV have very kindly put on some afternoon tea, coffee and tea, so there will be an opportunity to chat with the start-ups here today and to meet everybody.
So I will invite our first start-up here online. So we’re going to do the first three online and then the rest are here in person. So who’s first?
David Sivyer from Feedback Organic. Welcome David.
Hello everyone. Hello. Hello. Let’s jump on in. I’ll start to share my screen. Here we go.
[Visual of slide with text saying ‘Feedback Organic Recovery’, ‘Growing food’s future together’, ‘Accelerating the delivery of circular urban agriculture for communities’, ‘www.feedbackorganic.com.au’]
Well let’s begin. Hello everyone. I am David Sivyer. I run the exciting organisation Feedback Organic. I’m a fifth generation farmer, a first generation circular economy based urban farmer and we’re creating a new generation, one that’s growing food’s future together.
So let’s face it. Food is so convenient in 2022 that we don’t even need to grow it ourselves. And do we even need to know how to grow food? When you think about it when was the last time that you ate food that you’ve grown? For some it’s common but for most it’s actually far from that. And it’s that disconnect of where our food comes from that’s creating one of the biggest impacts on our environment.
So what we’re on our way to solving are three of Australia’s social issues. Unsustainable food production practices, food waste from us all, and then the important issue, the disconnect of both of those issues from all of us. We’re doing this because a third of food in Australia and the world is wasted and is contributing up to 10% of the global greenhouse gas emissions and as you can see many other societal issues. So where to from now?
Well at Feedback Organic we create community inclusive circular food systems that scale socially. And what that means is we set up urban farms in the cities like we’ve done here in Newcastle that become physical platforms for change. We work with individuals and organisations who create food waste, we divert it from landfill, grow produce from converting that food waste into compost, get that produce back to its community and people in need, and importantly provide accessible, collaborative, engaging education that embeds this behaviour. And what that translates to is this. Literal boots on the ground, hands in the soil, food system accessibility and transparency. From the little bubs to the adults because they’re both harvesting carrots for the first time, to the schools, the universities, café owners and you and your organisation who all make up our food system. This is how you create a new connected food system.
To date we’ve done all of this in response to the undeniable need from Government, industry and all of us to move from a linear to a circular way of living by 2030.
And our momentum is aligned to see this model within three communities within two years using our fellowship model social replication. And we are building on this impact through strategic industry, Government and community collaboration and partnerships. Collaboration with OzHarvest, Remondis, BioPak, an EPA innovation partnership, alignment with local and regional council climate action plans, partnerships with local universities to embed a research base. These are all choices that have positioned Feedback Organic as a regional community engagement platform for councils, educational institutions and industry to leverage.
So in each year the market grows to support these innovative ways and scale the solutions to meet the sustainable development goals and we recognise that by adapting to the market will help. So I’d like to introduce you to today’s version of Feedback Organic with a regenerative mission, building our impact capacity through strategic institutional partnerships and a new interesting non-profit auspicing social enterprise structure. We have a charitable status with plans for DGR status, we’re commercially profitable and engineered for collaborative, sustainable impact.
Today for the audience here understanding the complexity of what it takes to create this change, our ask falls into two exciting priorities for everyone involved. One, we’re after expressions of interest from councils, educational institutions, emission aligned organisations seeking a proven model of tangible stakeholder engagement and action. And two, help us elevate our impact through playing an active role in our organisation. We’re looking for board members, board advisors, advocates of our mission and funders now and throughout the demands of our organisation’s growth in the coming years, specifically the right individuals and organisations who wish to support this cause. And right now we know what skillsets we need. To undertake our next steps we’re after expertise in governance, charitable foundations, developing local and state Government relationships and sponsorships and grants.
Yet first I’d like to raise the question to us all when you think about the SDGs or the sustainable development goals what comes to mind? How are you as an organisation contributing to them? In short contributing with Feedback Organic in whatever capacity through these four options creates lasting, tangible impact for the SDGs. That’s what it translates to. For those who are looking to find out more please get in touch as we recognise that one of the quickest ways that we can influence behaviour and see impact is by working with individuals and organisations who’ve done it before. And from my experience over the last nine years we’ve learnt that the best way of growing food’s future is together. Thanks guys.
Thank you so much David. Does anyone have a question for David? Our experience is it takes everyone a little bit of time to warm up for questions. It’s hard to go first. So congratulations. Thank you. Okay. Great. We’ve got a question over here.
Hi. Can you hear okay?
Stephanie from Lend Lease. I’m curious whether you would consider temporary applications. Is it viable to do say a six/12 month urban installation?
That’s an interesting question in itself. That’s actually why we’ve shifted to our organisational structure. We’ve been operating for nine years but for six of those years we’ve been operating four different farms in New South Wales or specifically in Newcastle. And that was done through kind of a private arrangement, eg like people who own the land themselves. And so I think if that’s your question around having the land for six to 12 months it’s somewhat viable. Actually that was our first farm through the Hunter Research Foundation where we had it there for only six months. The problem is crops take time to grow and so you can imagine how quickly that needs to be turned over, which is possible. But with our legal structure and changing into our non-profit auspicing social franchises, so therefore working with other institutions, so we can actually have longevity to our footprint. And I think that’s key as you can imagine but always open to discussions as you can imagine.
Yep. Another question.
Hi David. This is Alvin from Airbnb. Love what you do. I’m raising two young girls and it’s really hard to help them understand how to avoid food waste. So I think what you do is really important in terms of education. And like you say doing this requires time, crops and so on, and building awareness requires time. And you talk about your business being commercially profitable. Can you explain a little bit your commercial model and how you make money so that you can continue doing what you do?
Totally. And I’m glad someone asked about this. Over the last couple of years – you may have seen a slide there where it indicated perhaps – I think it was maybe 2020 or so – but on a footprint of an acre what we were doing in revenue it was basically very limited grants, eg I think there was about $10,000 worth of grants for that operation, and the rest was revenue through food production, events and commercial food waste collection. There’s a number of different streams as well but they’re the main three. So when you think about its commercial nature that is in essence how a footprint of a farm can create that.
But what we recognised from how can we actually replicate this model for other communities and understanding how important it is to connect with food as you were just saying, the gap or the limitation of it was great, we can set one of these farms up, it took so much time and individual cost to contribute to these and kick them off the ground so to speak, but what we needed to do is actually get a different legal format so that hence if we have an auspicing organisation of Feedback Organic as a non-profit that has access to kind of catalytic funding or philanthropy which then you access as capital to set up these farms individually, once they’re set up they are able to sustain themselves financially.
If you want to look into the operations of how that works as well to trigger another community to be able to replicate this model for themselves, it’s a pretty intricate model which I’ll happily talk a little bit more about online, but essentially what happens the non-profit accesses capital to set up these farms. We then are heavily involved in how you set up and manage these farms and train people up to set up the new flagship farms. Those flagship farms, once they get to a point of revenue generation that they’re reaching $200K for example, that triggers another element of payment through the non-profit to then set up I guess the training facilities for neighbouring communities to start using our farm as a training facility. And then that allows the next community that is within a 30 to 60 kilometre radius to start training and then start the three to six month model of fellowship, so the fellowship model of replication, which then that starts the next community kicking off.
We just realised that to actually get some change in the food system especially locally you need to actually think about how we can do this intelligently. And that is really by adapting a collaborative approach and really looking at different financial models as well. For us that’s what we landed on. Two of the main decisions – it looks like the other people are coming in. One other kind of point of reference there is that around the main reason to shift to a non-profit or a social franchise model or mixed model is really to access funding and to build our skillset of experience on the board. So that’s where we’re looking for those asks of different board of directors. There we go. Hopefully that helps.
Wonderful. And we’ll have everyone’s contact details at the end in case people have more questions for the online presenters. Thank you so much David.
No worries. Thanks for that.
Now I’m going to ask Amelia Crook from Ownershift to tell us all about Ownershift.
I can’t see you suddenly. Can you see me?
Yes. Okay. Good. I can see you. Amazing. All right. This floaty dream of a dress is one of 7,000 new styles that are going to hit the Shein website today. It is remarkably similar to a dress that comes from a slow fashion brand that would cost you $366 but this one you can get for $28.95. This dress is one of 100 billion items of clothing sold every year and since we throw out about 60% of what we buy within 12 months this dress has a good chance of ending up in landfill. And when it does since it’s made from 100% virgin polyester it’s going to take about 200 years to break down. This innocent looking dress represents what’s wrong with our fashion industry. We take, make, waste with no regard for the catastrophic impact this linear system is having on the planet.
If we continue to consume in this way we’re going to need 2.3 planets worth of resources by 2030. And I wish I was here today to tell you I’ve got the silver bullet solution in my back pocket but that’s not the case. We need a systematic change to this system to have any impact on this catastrophic effect of the fashion industry. But what I am here today to tell you about is a key element that we need in the system. I’m here today to talk about Ownershift and we’re building a key enabler to enable the circular economy and reduce fashion’s negative impact on the planet.
Hello everybody. I am Amelia Crook. I have a unique insight into this problem. I started my career at Australia’s first big e-commerce venture and I went on to work at digital products that have disrupted industries. And last year I started a TikTok account where I announced to the world that I had misplaced my personal style during the pandemic. I’d been wearing tracksuit pants for far too long and I needed help to re-find that style and I was only going to buy second hand clothes to do that. This struck a chord. I’ve been in The Guardian, the New York Times. I was on a US talk show. And having this conversation with 137,000 people has given me unique insight into the consumer demand for an easier way to buy second hand clothes. So I’ve used my professional experience and this insight to create a platform to start influencing the fashion industry to shift to a more circular model and that’s me doing that on ABC News.
So let’s talk about second hand fashion and why my TikTok struck a chord. Fashion resale is going three times faster than the global apparel market overall and faster than fast fashion. If everybody bought one used item this year instead of buying new it would save around 200 million kilograms of waste.
And brands and retailers are seeing this growth. They know there’s value in their clothes and they’re on the second hand market but they’re also acutely aware that they need to meet their growth targets and stay relevant to their customers. And this honestly feels like an impossible equation. They’re trying to marry business growth with responsible consumption.
Well the answer to this is as old as time. It’s selling second hand clothes. Keeping items at their highest use for as long as possible is a key strategy in a more sustainable fashion system. And brands have a really important role to play to enable this. But the current retail paradigm is linear. It is not designed to bring items back from customers nor to prepare to sell them again. I see some Salvos people in the audience. They know this very well. It is a really unique retail challenge. And so resale is currently in the too hard basket for brands in Australia to engage with.
So that’s why I’ve created Ownershift. We make resale viable for brands and retailers. We specialise in the tricky logistics, the platform development and machine learning to enable brands to launch their own take back and resale channel. Let me show you.
This is Kim. She went on a hiking trip with friends a few years ago and her Patagonia jacket is now sitting under-utilised in her wardrobe. We’ve all got those items under-utilised in our wardrobe I’m sure. She gets an email from Patagonia about their trade-in program where she’ll get $40 if she sends that jacket back. Her daughter needs a new winter jacket so this appeals to her. She sends it in and it arrives at Ownershift. We authenticate the jacket, grade its condition and send Kim her incentive. We clean it and list it for sale on Patagonia’s resale website that we manage for them.
This is Sarah. She just finished uni. She’s about to go off on her big overseas trip and she’s going to Canada. She’s going to need a really good winter jacket. But she wants to save every penny for that trip. She goes to Patagonia’s website and sees that she can buy their high quality gear second hand which is amazing. She buys the jacket that used to be Kim’s at about half the price of new. So she’s set for her trip.
This really simple story shows the benefits of resale and of partnering with us. Kim bought her daughter’s jacket from Patagonia. She’s a loyal customer. Sarah couldn’t afford Patagonia new but now she’s a customer. And Patagonia have made a profit on that jacket twice. And these are key growth levers for the business. This is not just a sustainability project. And by partnering with us brands don’t have to worry about the specialist logistics required. They can get post-consumer data on their clothes that they’ve never had access to before and have an authentic ESG story to tell.
And this isn’t a pipedream that I’ve made up during COVID. This story is real. It is what Patagonia is doing in the US right now. But Patagonia in Australia is not. We’re about eight to ten years behind the US in terms of the resale market. So that’s why Ownershift is here to catch us up and enable this in Australia.
So where we’re at. We’ve validated problem solution fit and I’m very excited to announce that Australia Post has joined us as a foundation collaborator to enable a pilot. And we’re going to co‑design this pilot with a soon to be announced brand to run the water through the pipes and understand the opportunity for us all. We’ll then seek to raise investment to set us up to start servicing our pipeline of brands. This is who we’re talking to. These aren’t small corner shops. These are global brands that are interested in the future of a more sustainable fashion industry being led by outdoor brands predominantly and technical brands.
So our ask at the moment is to get in front of those brands and retailers who sell high quality items and help educate them about the opportunity of resale. And we’re also looking for some logistics expertise and advice to ensure that our pilot is schmick and world class. And also the two elements we need for pilot enablement are warehouse space and a commercial laundry. So if any of you have those things in your wheelhouse then we’d love to have a chat.
So thank you for your time. I hope you’re now as excited about shifting the Australian retail industry to a more circular model as I am.
Fantastic. Thanks so much Amelia. Any questions for Amelia?
You did such a good job.
I answered all the questions.
You answered all the questions. Paul has a question up the back.
Hi Amelia. Fantastic presentation as always. Can I just ask a question about – can you just amplify a little bit more about the US experience and how that’s going for Patagonia, the sorts of returns that they’re getting and so on? If you can speak a little bit to that.
Yeah for sure. So they started experimenting with resale in 2017. In the last 12 months they’ve had a 300% growth in the channel and second hand clothes are making up 10% to 30% of their total sales in the next two years. So it has gone from a few thousand items in the first year when they started out to now over 200,000 items per year being processed. That’s the size of the American market for you. That’s an insane amount of clothes. But it is now such a core part of their strategy that they are considering putting second hand items on the same page as new so that if you go to buy a jacket you have an option to buy second hand directly.
And a quick follow up. Do you know what the margin is on the second hand one? So you said they sell it twice which is incredible. What’s the margin on the second hand?
That information is not public. I have tried very hard to find it. But I know from our calculations that you can sell an item for more than what you bring it in for. So there is a margin and that’s what we’re piloting to find out.
Wonderful. Thank you. Thank you so much.
Thank you all.
Our last virtual presentation today is from Patrick Manley from Cercle to tell us all about reusable coffee cups. Thanks Patrick.
Wonderful. Thanks Anna and hi everyone. I’m so sorry I can’t be with you in the room today. But I do have a presentation that I wanted to share so I’ll just grab my screen.
[Visual of slide with text saying ‘Cercle’, ‘Reuse without the hassle’]
All right. Hopefully this comes up and I’m loud, clear and audible. So I want to talk to you about disposable coffee cups. It’s a problem that’s become pretty dear to my heart. I used to be a disposable cup user and over the last three years I’ve been working on a problem to try and sort out the insane amount of use that we have with disposable cups particularly in workplaces.
This is me and Steve. Steve owns six cafes in Sydney. I work in one of the buildings that used to have a whole bunch of disposable cups and it now has this system called Cercle in it.
So this is me two and a half years ago in the basement of the EY building in Sydney. This is two days’ worth of coffee cups. We counted every single one of these cups. And I know from surveying the users here that a whole bunch of them, in fact 70% of them, have a reusable cup but only 1% to 5% of the coffee sold by the cafes in the immediate precinct of the building are in reusable cups. So we have a massive disconnect between intent and behaviour when it comes to adopting reusable cups for our coffee.
And this is where those cups come from.
The branding on the cups gives away the location of the café and we see that 70% of them only travel about 50 metres. And so those cafes that are now within that circle have become the ones that we’ve targeted to activate the system.
So I’m going to play just the first 30 seconds of this video. I’ll share the link afterwards so you can watch it in your own time.
Patrick there’s no sound on that one. Do you want to re-share your screen and turn the – up to you.
Don’t worry. I’ll share around the link. It just had a bit of narration from me simply saying wouldn’t it be great if we had a disposable cup that was reusable and it was as convenient as disposable.
But that should give you just a little bit of an idea of the system. So what we’re trying to do here is replicate the user experience that you get with a disposable cup except have a reusable one. And so we’ve built this system called Cercle. For the user they simply collect their coffee in a reusable cup, a Cercle cup from the café in the morning and then drop it in one of the office drop pods. We then collect that cup, wash and return it back to the café.
This means that we’re quite different from anything that’s out there at the moment. We’ve got a really nice stainless steel cup that’s manufactured by our friends Returnr in Melbourne. We use drop pods to collect the cups in office places. It’s free to use. We don’t need any subscription. You don’t need to pay any deposit. You don’t need to sign up or reveal any of your personal information. We’re the only collection service and we also track and record a whole bunch of data around the usage so we can provide this back to the building to show them just how many disposable cups they’re saving. And that little graph that you see on the screen here that’s just an example from our first building where we’ve saved now about 35,000 disposable cups over the last 12 months.
And this is what some of our customers say about it. We’ve been overwhelmed by the feedback of how positive people love the system. Because I think for them it just makes such an easy change where they’re not having to change their behaviour yet they’re getting the benefit of having a reusable cup, so much so that some people have been taking to LinkedIn to post pictures of our assets which is really, really cool.
So impact to date is over 35,000 disposable cups avoided in one office building. We’ve got five cafes on our network and we’re active at now four sites. Two of them are big sites in Sydney. Our pipeline is then to look to acquire more customers particularly across the large building management firms and grow the existing ones that we have. I was in Melbourne a couple of months ago and there’s three huge buildings in Melbourne that want to go ahead with Cercle which is really exciting for us.
So our potential is to continue to invest in the system. Our system is based a huge amount on nudging people into more sustainable behaviour change. And so there’s various pieces of work which we’re doing to understand and better improve how that can work. We think we’ve got potential to expand across other different product lines such as into meal boxes and then look at other high density places such as airports and retail parks.
So how can you help? We’re always on the lookout for any one of these three things. When I think about Sustainability Victoria and Melbourne we’ve got an immediate need for support to activate three of these big buildings down in Melbourne. Most of them need a new dishwasher put in place so that we can activate the system at scale. So we’re always looking for talented people to come and help us. We’re open to options for funding, and the partners can range from anyone from universities to help us understand different parts of the system through to just anyone who’s interested to help and customers that we could implement Cercle at within an office building.
[Visual of slide with text saying ‘Cercle’, ‘Thank you!’, ‘firstname.lastname@example.org’]
So that’s it for me. This is my contact details. Give me a shout if you’ve got any questions.
Awesome. Thank you so much Patrick. Questions for Patrick?
I’ve actually got one myself. Hey Patrick. Thanks for the preso. Just curious with the model. Have you seen anything like this happening globally? I mean you’re dialling in from the UK currently. Do you know if there’s similar sort of things happening overseas? Is that where you drew inspiration or is it something that’s sort of – what are you seeing elsewhere I guess that’s sort of trying to do the same thing?
Yeah. Great question.
We started Cercle just mainly out of the research and then realised the other systems that existed worldwide. So in the UK there’s a system called CLUBZERO. It used to be called CupClub. They’ve developed a similar system. They use plastic cups. They’ve experimented with RFID. They use containers to collect them. You need an app to orchestrate your membership on to that. There was a system formerly down in Melbourne which some people in the room may be familiar with called TCX, the coffee cup exchange system. They were live pre-COVID in the Rialto Building. That was a system which we drew inspiration from. They had a very different cup as well. It was plastic. They’re actually no longer operating unfortunately. I think it was COVID. It was just very unfortunate timing for them.
But there’s basically about five or six systems across the world which are doing similar things. They all seem to want to use an app to do it whereas ours is just simply we get in there and get the cups out to people and make it free and easy to use.
Cool. Thank you.
And Emily has a question too.
Sustainability Victoria hogging the mic. I had a question around – sorry if I missed this but is it the customer who – do they pay a deposit or is it the building that is sort of supplying the cups?
It’s the building is sponsoring the access of Cercle for their users. So you as a user when you enter the building in the morning have to do nothing different. You don’t even need to get your phone out to use Cercle. You quite simply go to the café that you would normally go to. If they’re a public café they may ask if you want to use Cercle if you’re a member of the building. If they’re a café that’s already inside the building then they’ll serve their coffee into the Cercle cup by default. And then via trust you simply use that cup and take it up to your office and then drop it in the drop pod.
Yeah. Awesome. So I saw there were 35,000 users. What’s the rate of return in terms of people actually returning the cup? Are people running away with them?
Like the office cutlery that goes missing.
Yeah. We thought we would get a significant loss rate and over the last year we’ve been measuring this intensely. So we’ve had 35,000 users and out of those 35,000 users 145 times a cup has gone missing. So we’ve lost 145 cups out of 35,000 users. So that loss rate means that we can launch this into buildings and just simply build that into our model. Will it work everywhere? No. Of course if you rolled this out at one of those other places I was suggesting like an airport we would see close to 100% loss rate. But we’re well on our way to understanding what is needed to be put in place to nudge people into that sustainable behaviour. When we interview these people in the office building we find that they say – when we ask them ‘Why didn’t you take the cup’ some people say they think it’s tracked. Other people say they don’t need to take it because they know that it’s going to be here tomorrow. So I think the better we get at understanding those nudge points into sustainable behaviour we’ll get a tighter system. So it seems to work really well in office places at the moment.
I’ve got a couple of really quick questions that I think people might find the information to be useful. The first is how many times does the cup need to be used to discount the use – what am I trying to say? Yeah. And also to be beneficial. I think I know the answer because I’ve heard you answer this question before. And the second one is how many times can the cup be used?
The second question is an interesting one. I’ll just start with that. Because we’re doing some testing at the moment with UTS on putting a cup through – recreating a system that puts a cup through 10,000 uses and see what happens with it. So that’s like exposing it to extreme wear and tear. They’ve got a system there which can replicate the demands of our system. So we want to get thousands of uses out of these cups. The ones that we’ve got for this building I want them to be used for years and then we’ll get incredible environmental benefit out of it.
So there’s various schools of a carbon lifecycle analysis that have been completed on disposable versus reusable cups. Our sort of method aggregation of that looks to point to a figure of between about 30 and 50 uses for a double walled stainless steel cup. They’ve got a lot of metal in them. So we estimate that after basically – in the system at 200 George it was over 100 days that you would cross over that point. I think there’s definitely a need to do more carbon lifecycle analysis because it does seem to be quite variable with the figures.
And also there’s an opportunity of our system as well which we are working on at the moment in terms of the water usage from the dishwashers. Because that’s the biggest environmental impact that negatively affects our system at the moment. Our dishwashing uses about 2.5 to 3.5 litres of water per cycle. It’s incredibly efficient compared to a domestic dishwasher. But there’s a huge opportunity with the new technology that’s coming out in dishwashers to get better at reducing that net water use as well. Something I’d love to talk to Sustainability Victoria about when we go round to these buildings and installing dishwashers everywhere.
Wonderful. Thank you so much.
And now we’re going to move to in person. And I’m very pleased to invite Danling and Anett to come and talk to us about ReCo.
And those that are online feel free to stick around or not. Up to you. I’ll just get these slides up.
Over to you.
[Visual of slide with text saying ‘ReCo’, ‘Zero-waste local refill delivery system’, ‘As seen in Daily Telegraph, Renew, News.com.au, Women’s Health, Wentworth Courier’]
Hi everyone. My name is Anett and this is Danling. We are the founders of ReCo. ReCo stands for reimagine and co-create. Our mission is to tackle plastic pollution.
In the past 60 years despite all the efforts the world has recycled only 9% of plastics produced. This means 6.3 trillion kilograms of plastic is still in our ecosystem.
Recycling is part of the circular economy solutions but we cannot recycle our way to the future. The first and foremost solution should be re-using and we are here to lead the movement. I’m a retail professional with 12 years of experience working in a global fashion brand. I have extensive knowledge in inventory management, operations and sales. And Danling will introduce herself.
Hi everyone. I’m Danling and I’m a creative director, designer and communicator. I’ve been in the industry for 15 years and in the past seven years I dedicated myself into learning about sustainability and also raising awareness for the environment. So for the work I’ve done in the past seven years I was also named the Shape Shifter by the Circle Awards last year. I’ll pass the mic back to Anett.
And we are passionate to bringing this knowledge to build a truly sustainable brand. Our vision is to build a local refill delivery system that provides the most convenient and beautiful experience for the users. Our system includes custom-made reusable containers. If you want to lift it up.
Local modular washing labs, a web app which is currently a website, and a third party logistic network.
For the users the refill experience is super easy. Just like when you order anything online we will deliver it to you. When you’ve finished your product you order a new one, you prepare your empty jar for collection. We come, collect, replace your empty jar with a full one, and you even receive a $2 credit for your next order. The jars come back then to our system and as you can see on the photo we will wash them, refill them and use them again and again.
Currently we refill laundry powder and dishwasher powder both made by our product partner Simply Clean in the beautiful northern rivers of New South Wales. They are premium products made with lemon myrtle. There are no fillers and no toxic chemicals. It’s also very concentrated so a jar here has 850 grams of laundry powder, will last for more than three months for a household of two.
And the price per wash load is very similar to the average supermarket price. When our system is fully built we can plug in any local brands, any products, and we can deliver the products to our users. And I’ll pass the rest of the presentation to Danling.
So why are we different?
Our user experience is the most convenient and beautiful compared to other brands in the market. It is also super easy. You don’t have to clean the jar and take it out to the refill station or you don’t have to send it back. We collect it straight from you and you even get the reward for it. Every order is looked after by Pack and Send’s local centre run by the centre owner. So basically they know whose order is this and they would deliver to them, deliver the refill to them so everyone is looked after. During the pandemic while lots of businesses have difficulties with logistics we’ve never missed a delivery or received a complaint.
Most importantly we are aligned with our customers’ values. Plastic free, zero waste delivery, local operation, premium product that’s locally made and non-toxic. And for all of these you don’t have to pay a premium. And we believe that this will fundamentally enable behavioural change.
So you may wonder. Currently we deliver only in Sydney. So how do we expand to other cities? Our reverse logistics is already covered by Pack and Send. They have more than 100 centres in Australia and each centre stocks our product and delivers within the local areas. So to expand to other cities all we need is local marketing, partnerships and a team to look after washing and refilling in each city.
Our customers are professionals, mostly females. They care about the planet and they love to support local businesses. In other words we are our own customers and that gives us a lot of empathy into building the brand and the product. We are proud to deliver to some of the most high profile changemakers in town and that includes Jess Scully, City of Sydney Deputy Lord Mayor.
We also deliver to holiday rentals and offices. We have a partnership with 1 Denison, a large sustainable building in North Sydney. Our laundry powder is beautiful. You might smell the products later when we pass it around. Our dishwasher also works perfect for any dishwasher and compared to other products in the market ours is toxin free and it doesn’t pollute the waterways. Our holiday rental hosts use our products to add value to their listings.
In recent years we’ve seen supermarket trialling refill stations in Sydney and Melbourne which is very exciting. And in the UK large retailers have formed a refill coalition group. They’re rolling out refill stations but also refill delivery. The UK Government is investing £30 million in innovations like our system.
Right now we are the only start-up in Australia that provides the most convenient and beautiful refill delivery experience. We are not just selling another product or service. We are inspiring positive changes within the people and community.
At this stage we are at still a very early stage and we’re working on improving our packaging and also developing the technology that will make it even easier for the users to refill and track their efforts. When ReCo is fully built it will be a great system to help brands and retailers transition to a circular model.
So if you love what we do we have three ways we can collaborate we think. First of all we are interested in setting up an operation in Melbourne and we would love to connect and learn about the market here and the demographic and the suburbs. Because we find in Sydney there are interesting different demographic behaviours in different suburbs. For offices and holiday rentals if you have a footprint in Sydney we would be excited to deliver our products to your space. Pack and Send Sydney CBD Centre also deliver on e-bike. For FMCG brands – we know we were just talking to Elizabeth from Aesop just now – we would love to explore the opportunities to implement our system within your brand. We know it is a very long journey and is such a big problem to tackle and we would love to start the conversation and develop the system together.
We hope to share our knowledge. We’ve learned so much about our customers in the past couple of years and we would also love to learn from you and co-create a better future together. Thank you everyone.
What drew you to laundry powder and dishwashing as the first options and are you looking at all to expand to other products in the future?
Because we love washing clothes. No. Just kidding.
For laundry powder because just currently it’s off the shelf. So we basically really just put it into the market to try to focus on the user experience. So if we were going to refill say for example handwash we will need to custom make the jars to be able to refill them safely. So for now powder is the easiest and the safest and it also lasts three months. That means that gives us a bit of time to refill and to test user behaviour as well.
Hi. So Caitlin from Coles. We’re seeing lots of refill options at the moment. I notice you’ve gone plastic free. Is it a glass jar?
Have you explored other materials that might be lighter to transport around or have you done any work on sort of the overall carbon impacts of taking back the glass, washing and sending it back out?
Yeah. Very good question. Lots of people actually have questions about our glass jars and we know that lots of FMCG brands also are quite concerned about the heavy weight. For us basically we deliver within ten kilometres for each centre so we make sure that that is only travelled within that very short distance. And that also keeps circulating in the local community as well. So in terms of the weight and the carbon footprint – in terms of the carbon footprint we’re still yet to do a full cycle analysis but that is the sort of beauty about the local production and delivery. And in terms of testing out other packaging materials I come from a design background and I’m not in the sort of chemical background and I just very naively tested out aluminium packaging and that was a disaster. Because the liquid actually corrodes the packaging and it basically transformed the whole packaging into this beautiful beast. So no aluminium for us.
We actually also researched within our customers which materials they prefer and we also put through plastic as a suggestion as well, and many people said no plastic first. However we think say for example if we were going to go into say body wash in the shower that would be quite dangerous to have glass so could be stainless steel might be the option. But again that will be yet to be discovered. So if you will be interested to have a discussion we would definitely love to.
Hi. Alvin from Airbnb. Good to know you’re also helping some of our property owners doing this. I think that’s fantastic.
Yes. We have a super host from Airbnb.
Great. Okay. We should chat more offline. But the question is about expanding markets. You’re thinking about opening up in Melbourne and you talk about having centres and there’s logistics involved. What does it take for you to open into a new market? What are the steps and what are the requirements for you to be able to scale this into multiple cities?
Very good question. And that’s something that we’ve been exploring internally. First of all we need money like everything else. But in terms of for our product at the moment if we were going to have say Airbnb host in Melbourne we could potentially start with these two products which they’re just ready to go. So really on the ground we will need just someone to look after the washing and refilling. That’s really it. And Pack and Send, they store the products. So we don’t really need to pay sort of people to look after the warehousing as well. So it is very straightforward and easy.
But in terms of the geography we only focus on the high density populated areas. So some of our holiday rentals they’re actually outside the city so they get the big bulk and then they come back to the city to pick up whenever they are in the city. They pick up the big bulk and they run with it.
Thank you everyone.
Thanks guys. I’d like to welcome Seamus up, Seamus O’Sullivan up to talk about commercial food waste. Thanks Seamus.
[Visual of slide with text saying ‘GrainOut’, ‘Circular Economy Solutions’, ‘Minimising Food Manufacturing Waste Streams’, ‘Seamus O’Sullivan – GrainOut’, ‘July 2022’]
Hi everyone. I went for ten minutes last time so Caitlin or someone keep me on check this time. I’m Seamus O’Sullivan. I’m the co-founder of GrainOut. So we offer circular economy solutions for medium to large manufacturers.
So what’s the problem? So in Australia food waste costs the Australian economy $36 billion a year. Approximately depending on the region somewhere between 40% and 47% of that waste comes from food manufacturing.
So why us and what are we? What do we do? So my background is in food manufacturing where I’ve worked for 15 years in some household food manufacturing brand names where I saw an opportunity around the management or mismanagement of food waste and food by-products. And in 2019 I did my Masters in Supply Chain and I got really excited about this evolving area of the circular economy and I put the two together and at the end of 2019 I co-founded GrainOut.
This is the tricky bit. I always get asked what do you guys do? Are you a consulting company or are you a service? Essentially we’re a division of Benzoil. So Benzoil are specialists in waste to recovery in the industrial space. But essentially if you think of GrainOut as an uber-business model. So we’re a full outsource. Basically our customers come to us needing either a service or advice and we connect them with our network of strategic partners. So that may be directly or it may be pulling together one or two industry partners to come up with a solution. And the reason we have that business model is it’s fast, it’s really innovative and also it is way more cost effective than us setting up offices and facilities.
So what have we achieved so far? So we became operational in December 2019 and we’ve processed or sent a million kilos of food waste to animal feed, a million litres of liquid food waste to animal feed and over 1.6 million to compost.
But we’ve got a long way to go in terms of the evolution of what we do and with our customers. Essentially we use circular economy business strategies and really all that’s saying is going up the left side of the hill is we look across the whole value chain. So that’s from sourcing to manufacturing, logistics and all the way to the consumer.
And so how we do that with our customers is we use this basic circular economy framework. And most customers really come to us and most of our work and how we do business and make money is in this phase one. So they really come to us with their current methods of disposal or repurposing and we benchmark that against either what we do or our other customers do and we offer more commercially beneficial options to do that.
Where we’re moving and evolving our customers is going to phase two where that is upcycling food by-products. So that’s saying if food waste is going into landfill how do we get it into animal feed? If it’s going into animal feed how do we get it into food products? And I’ll give an example after this. And the third phase is what I was talking about is connecting our customers to what is the whole food chain waste solution. So that’s either we provide them the resources or we can facilitate that but essentially it’s minimising food waste by working all the way along the value chain, so from your suppliers all the way to your customers.
So a really good example of phase two, how you increase the value of a waste stream, is two weeks ago I was approached around peanut shells that came from food manufacturing and that go to landfill and were asked to look at alternate applications. And really all we do is we go globally and see what’s out there and we just try and copy it. So within a week we came back to our customer and said there are four main applications that are happening outside of Australia. So the main one is adsorbents to mop up industrial spills but it’s also been developed into a PVA biocomposite, can be processed into biofuel or it’s processed into biochar which is a fertiliser. We then do a quick assessment initially on the commercial viability and then we target the one that is going to deliver the most commercial value for our customer.
We then take that through this roadmap. So it’s four stages. The first one is looking at the commercial assessment and what application it is. We then again using that uber model are saying who are the best partners in the marketplace that we want to pull in for this project and do we need to develop any additional capability. And then the third is what’s the channel strategy again using the uber model, who are the customers that take this product, do we need to develop that further and create new customers in our network, and then finally is trial up with those customers and go to market.
So already this year we’ve been approached and working with these four main food manufacturers.
Probably the best example is Kraft Heinz. They’re the biggest canned meat processing company in Australia. And I don’t eat any canned meat and most of it goes overseas but amazingly it’s a huge and growing business. But one of the waste streams from making canned meat is something called tallow which is basically the fat. So currently that goes to render which can go into soaps or animal feed. So we worked on that and again really quick turnaround, within two weeks. We looked at the classification that they had on that. If they applied a different classification it can go into an alternate channel of margarines and shortenings and that current market value is over a million dollars more than what they’re currently getting for that product. So they’re starting that process but they have to go through that internally to get that approval to go through that other channel.
So where to from here? So we are going to continue to grow organically and build this model. I guess the ask today is we are always trying to build our network so we’re after customers. Any food manufacturers that want to throw us a challenge we’d love to look at it as we’ve done in the peanut shell example but also collaborations. Any parties here today – I know there are some universities. We’re doing two projects with Monash University currently. We’re always looking for partners either in industry or universities. Thanks very much everyone. I hope I got under ten minutes today.
[Visual of slide with text saying ‘GrainOut’, ‘Thank You’, ‘Seamus O’Sullivan’, ‘email@example.com’, ‘0437 965 270’]
Wonderful. Thanks so much Seamus. Any questions?
I’ve got one. If you can share what’s been the most challenging sort of product or sort of material you’ve had to sort of take through that journey? Because the peanut one sounds really quite straightforward in comparison. I’m sure there are others. Can you share one that’s quite tricky?
Yeah. I guess any ones that are in that phase one component are really straightforward, where we just go here’s a product, we’ve got a direct channel and we make the connection. Anything in the phase two does require a bit of development. So even the peanut shell, within a week we know the application but there is time to develop those. Probably the biggest one we’ve worked with is we’re doing a project with Monash Food Innovations. So it’s taking all the – which SV were collaborating with. So when they make peas and lentils they basically crush the shells and they go through this sitting process and everything outside of that is very nutritionally high but it’s currently going to animal feed. So we partnered with Monash Food Innovation and we just finished a program there to create three new food innovations out of that.
Parts of it you get to the end of it and you think wow that was quite an obvious match but the challenge is always trying to find who that best partner is and what the application is. Probably just the other part to the answer to that is there’s plenty of examples where a manufacturer will come to us and throw us a challenge and we’ll say we’ve done some research and we believe you have the best application for this product currently commercially. So whether that’s landfill, animal feed, food products. And we might say based on what we have in our network continue doing what you’re doing. So there’s plenty of examples of that but it’s more trying to do that assessment to say is there something that is obvious that could be done further here and sometimes we just go back and say there’s nothing here at the moment but maybe in a year’s time we’ll come back and reassess it.
Thank you so much.
Seamus has some good stories because he never knows who he’s going to get a call from day to day. It could be 20 tonnes of beef patties or it could be 50 tonnes of pea protein. You never know. Okay. Great.
Could I please welcome Josie from Food2Soil to come and talk to us about bio nutrient fertiliser. Thank you.
This is very high for the vertically challenged. So you guys can see me from here.
[Visual of slide with text saying ‘Food 2 Soil’, ‘Natural plant food’, ‘Josie Grenfell & Annabel Schweiger’, ‘Co-founders’]
Good afternoon everyone.
So hi everyone. I’m going to talk to you about Food2Soil.
So I’m Josie Grenfell. My awesome co-founder Annabel Schweiger, she is not here with me today.
So this is us at our Canberra facility. We connected over a shared passion of soil health, gardening, food waste and climate action. And in regards to food waste the person sitting next to me on the flight today didn’t eat their muffin. It was packaged. Nor did they want it. So I picked it up and if my daughter doesn’t have it for school tomorrow we will mince that on Monday. So just giving you an example of how much we hate waste.
So Annabel and I, we started our Canberra facility and we did it at a small scale. So at the moment we create for the home gardener market. This is a picture of us in the midst of our production and one of our fermenting tanks.
At the moment we make about 150 bottles per week. And this work is hard. It is heavy. It is smelly and it is often very dirty. So why do we do it?
Because it solves some key problems that we are really passionate about. In regards to soil seven tonnes of topsoil is lost for every person on the earth every year. At the rate we are losing this topsoil we only have another 60 years left. So that would be goodbye food production. Australia in particular has really poor soil and if anyone has tried to dig a hole in their back yard you’ll experience that back breaking experience of what is dirt and what is soil.
We also have an astounding amount of commercial food waste as you’ve heard today. If Australia was to stack its commercial food waste on pallets it would go from the ground to the international space station and back 14 times. That’s in one year. That’s only commercial food waste and that’s only in Australia. So yeah I find that visual astounding.
So we’ll stay on the food waste. Most of our food waste at the moment goes into landfill where it produces really harmful greenhouse gas emissions. Not to mention it’s a crying shame of all those beautiful nutrients that have gone straight into the bin. At Food2Soil we aim to change that and repurpose those nutrients and give them back to soil.
Think of it as paddock to paddock not paddock to plate.
Our solution. All right. This is an image of our bio fertiliser. Bio meaning that it’s biologically alive. So not only does it have the nutrition from the food waste but it’s biologically alive in that it’s got live micros in it. It’s this combination that makes our product perfect to keep soil structure and so alive reducing soil loss. And if you’ve got healthy soil that soil can absorb more carbon from the atmosphere and help the planet.
I’m a dietician and so for me the whole microbial life of the human gut and soil health is really interesting. And in fact our process really mimics human digestion in that the food waste is broken down into small components that the plant can then easily absorb. It’s interesting for me that for years I’ve been telling people what foods to eat to increase their gut flora and now I tell gardeners how to do it for their soil.
Our product works. It’s been horticulturally tested and most of our studies show up to 50% better growth than your standard seaweed fertiliser.
Okay. We have super fans and repeat customers that will vouch for that. So we know that the product works in terms of growth. It also helps for plant resistance to stress factors such as a drought and frost. And using our product means that it’s a product that will build soil health. So rather than chemical-based fertilisers where you have to keep putting more and more on top it’s a product that you don’t need to do that. It’s just the standard applications and you get constant continuous soil health. But our most important kind of implication for this and what our customer feedback has proven is it’s that feel good factor of our customers not only feel good gardening, they’re feeling extra good when they buy a product because what they’ve done, it’s a little bit of something helping – they’ve done something for the planet just by buying it.
So in terms of our market and traction, organic fertiliser revenue is rising every year as is organic farming practices and regen ag farming practices. This coincides with the demand from the consumer for more chemical free produce. There’s also supply chain issues that are happening due to war, COVID and sanctions on exports, imports. And I mean this is seen in that urea has gone up 300% just in the last year alone. There’s also very few microbially live products on the market and there’s none made from food waste.
I forgot to mention we’re already in one IGA and we’ve got plans for more. We have some key partnerships. We give 1% to Greening Australia. We have a growing email subscriber list and thriving social media accounts.
So for us it’s a unique business opportunity to turn an otherwise wasted resource into a four way revenue source. Starting with the intake of commercial food waste which we charge for at the standard going rate, the sales of our food to soil products, the licencing of the micro-factory globally and across Australia. We really do believe in that decentralising of fertiliser production which will make us not so vulnerable as a company to overseas orders of chemical-based fertilisers. You can make fertiliser wherever there is food waste and you guys will know that there’s a lot of it everywhere. And the ability to earn carbon credits which you can sell back to the Government or on the private carbon market.
So our ask of everyone today is for partners and for introduction to investors to help us move into that next facility which will enable us to enter the ag market on the more broader scale. And yeah that’s really kind of it I think.
Moving forward. Here we go. So sorry guys. Missed the last one. Back to Annabel and I. Together she and I have the experience, the passion, the motivation and the skillset to see the Food2Soil model fly. Food2Soil is quite literally one part of the solution – and if I had a bottle here I would shake the liquid – to climate change. So get on board. We’re running out of time.
Thanks. That was really interesting. I was just curious. You were saying local sort of micro factories. What amount of organics would be viable?
The second question is is an inner city location viable and would you then prefer to use it in agriculture sites or is inner city use viable as well?
So the next what we call phase three site we already have the plans and the pricings done for that and that sits under 200 tonne per year. There’s a bit of a sweet spot with the EPA in terms of land use to be able to do that. So that’s why we’ve done it. Once we get the funding to get that up and running we will see how that goes in terms of efficiencies and if that’s something that we can replicate. So our thoughts are one in Newcastle, one in Albury, one in Wagga, in Queensland, so that you don’t then have to make all the product in South Australia and ship it all the way to the top of Australia when you can quite easily and really – our process is really energy efficient. Currently it runs on solar and it doesn’t require excessive heat. So for us that’s a big plus is to just try and get it more locally.
That was actually perfect. It leads into my question. Azra from Equilibrium. I know shopping centres have a lot of food waste at the moment and there are shopping centres who are testing using microbes just to break everything down to go through the pipes so it doesn’t have to be transported and everything. My question would be how sensitive will your machines be? Would it be able to take that type of food waste? Because there can be the meat food waste, there’s stuff from the supermarkets. It can get really complex and a lot of people involved. Is that something you guys would be able to be a part of?
Yeah. Once we had a look at what kind of input it was in there microbially. We really don’t want to have contaminated waste because we don’t want to be putting microplastics out on land. So as long as we can have a clean input, you name it, we can ferment it. And often the more meat the better. So yeah. Most people think of this as a compost pile and we have to kind of go think brewery. Literally we call it the brew house. So yeah there’s definite potential.
Thanks for the presentation Josie. It’s Michelle Keem from Australia Post. Just had a question around if you have a sense of how compostable packaging or products is impacting or influencing the soil quality?
So packaging as in the food waste that we get, that’s a big thing for us. And I actually didn’t say this line but one of the things we say is the things that we find in food waste and we pick up from cafes, it’s pretty funky you guys. You might want to ask through a question some of the things that you can get out of it. So yeah we can go through our fermenting system some of the biodegradable packaging but for us getting rid of plastics as much as we can. And most fertilisers would require a 0.5% contamination minimum. So as a company like ours we would make sure that as much plastics can be out of what we would ferment.
Were you asking more though compostable plastics?
Right. Okay. Yeah. It just depends. Some of them yes, some of them no. If you look closely at them, some of them are made out of corn starch and some of them have some other kind of funky ingredients. Without knowing exactly what’s in them we would be erring on the side of caution.
If they’re certified?
Yeah. If it’s certified possibly. Yeah.
Can I just ask you to talk a little bit more about your retail product that you’re selling in retail stores as well?
Okay. So at the moment we sell online. So we have our e-commerce Food2Soil.com.au. Go look at it. We also sell at the market. And then we had that image actually. So this is a – this is our two litre bottle. We sell a two litre, one litre, four litre and we can do orders of ten litre. Our big goal would be 200 litre and one tonne for larger scale. At the moment our retail prices is matching pretty much what you buy online. It’s a good model for wholesale pricing as well.
How much does it cost to buy one of those in IGA roughly?
So a two litre is $38.50. But it’s very concentrated you guys. So it’s 100ml in a ten litre bucket. And so it lasts a long time. You get really good value.
Just a quick question. Have you thought about even making it smaller scale [1:22:06]?
Yeah. Essentially because as we say kombucha for plants and soil, we have, and we’re going to keep it kind of open to that. I mean a lot of kind of smaller farmers could do this. But it takes a lot of time, and you’ve got to have an inoculate and you’ve got to make that – it’s a lot of effort and a lot of time and we seriously doubt really busy people are going to do it. So we saw a gap in the market to be out there to supply a product that is like ours but we do all the hard work for people. And a lot of people really want to – we’re actually on share waste in Canberra. We get a lot of people who drop their waste off who live in apartments and they don’t have a bokashi bin or they don’t have a compost bin and they want to get food waste out. They actually drop it into a little bit outside my house and we process it. And they feel good about it and it’s always really good clean input too because they care. So most people just can’t be bothered. Because it’s hard.
Look we’ve got big plans to do that. IGA is our first one because I have a friend who owns an IGA and he’s pretty awesome. I actually helped him with his waste. And he’s quite willing to be – he’s part of a group of IGAs in Canberra who have stepped away from Metcash and they’re doing a bit of their own thing. So it was a really good opportunity to get in there and see how things go and get a bit of a feel for all that kind of retail market. So yeah we’re hoping for spring sales and spring booms. Not many people want to get out and garden in winter and when it’s raining as you’ve probably noticed. So we’re going to go nuts.
Now we’re going to change topics and we’re going to talk about furniture re-use. So Justin please come and introduce us to Green Furniture Hub. Thank you.
[Visual of slide with text saying ‘The green solution for surplus office furniture and equipment’, ‘Presented by Green Furniture Hub’]
Like you Seamus I’m trying to keep this one under ten minutes. So I’ve got my watch here.
All right. Thank you very much. And thank you Sustainability Victoria for hosting us. Hello everybody. My name’s Justin Hatchett. I’m here to talk to you about Green Furniture Hub.
So like the other presentations you’ve heard today we’re trying to solve a problem of waste and this is the waste generated in the office sector purely through workplace change projects, relocations and refurbishments. Each year on the strip-out side of things alone about 145,000 tonne of strip-out material is coming out of offices and that equates to about 30,000 tonne of office furniture. Most of that goes to landfill. Less than 20% is recycled and less than 3% re-used. And since doing this I feel like a bit of a furniture whisperer. Every time I walk into a room I see chairs and they’re whispering at me ‘Save me. Save me’.
And that’s what we try and do. That’s our mission to try and elongate the lifecycle of furniture.
So how do we do it? If we look at the waste hierarchy which is effectively a rank order system of landfill diversion processes and it rates it according to impact on environment. Obviously avoiding waste altogether is the ideal. The next step on the run is re-use and that’s where we’re trying to focus our model, extending the lifecycle of the item. When we’re engaged to do full removal we also look at material recycling. So we’re a for profit commercial model trying to solve this problem and it’s a problem that’s ongoing, it’s costly and it’s wasteful.
So who are these two people? Well one of them is me. I’ve got a corporate background in marketing and communications and have worked in commercial property, financial services and Government and I have a passion for technology. My business partner Rajiv Midha is a logistics and relocation professional expert. He has on the ground resources in Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane and a partnership in Perth and has been in business for 20 years. And despite being very different we think our combined skills can help solve this problem at scale.
So how do we work? Well we’ve got a schematic here of the furniture recovery system. This was done by the Better Building Partnerships in Sydney. If you look at the left you’ve got the three stick figures there and they actually represent a very complex array of relationships and incentives between the commercial landlord, the tenant and a bunch of intermediaries in between. They’re all very well meaning stakeholders but between the site transition there’s waste that’s generated. The good thing is there is a market for quality furniture and the re-use of fit-out materials. The problem is trying to create visibility of it and getting it from A to B on scale.
So that’s where we come into place. We provide the technology, a marketplace that’s emerging, and as I mentioned earlier the on the ground logistics to match those who are offloading with those who want it. We’ve actually been described as the Tinder of furniture. So I’m not sure whether that’s really where we want to go but we want it as convenient as that. And we have multiple re-use options and mainly the small business sector is where a lot of the furniture goes.
So over the last three and a half years we’ve been operating. It took a while to actually understand what model we wanted to bring to the market and then just as we started to get off the ground COVID came along and completely dislocated office markets. But we ploughed on and in that process we’ve rehomed or resold or given away in some instances over 11,000 items which is equating to 215 tonne and we’ve recycled another 150 tonne of metal. So it’s a decent amount I think but it’s only a tip of the iceberg. So there’s room to grow and scale. Each year on the strip-outs alone there’s 2.5 million square metres of refurbished space. So it’s a big total addressable market.
How we work. I forgot to press start. I don’t know how long I’m going. Pardon me. I’ll keep moving quickly. So we’ve got a start to finish process and the key point of this slide is to say look we do it all behind the scenes. We make it very easy. So a tenant or a landlord or a stakeholder engages. Doesn’t really have to worry too much. We’re experts in the commercial office space. If you look at number four, the circle with the truck, typically a sub-contractor who is engaged will target basically waste or recycling very efficiently and that’s appropriate in some projects. Other projects you’re just leaving a lot of opportunity to deliver an ESG outcome for a client and all those things we do are outside of that number four. That’s where we really bring our model to play. A range of strategies.
What are the costs I hear some of you possibly asking? We are a fee for service model on the client side. So basically a client will generally have to pay something to someone to get rid of the furniture as they clear out the space. We want to capture that budget and do whatever we can to make it sustainable and deliver an ESG outcome. There are a range of services we can deploy depending on the client project and budget and goals and lead time and a whole range of other factors.
On the other side we try and rehome this at scale. So we’re trying to create an economic incentive to engage with our platform. High volume, fast turnaround. So we’re not trying to maximise necessarily the economic value of every item on an individual basis. It’s trying to move it on scale. And so we are capturing some value. Typically around 30% of what the item would cost new. So anyone who comes to us will actually see a bargain and feel good too. We also facilitate charity programs. So we actually pass through the product on behalf. Particularly the larger corporate clients we do that for where there’s no value capture and in fact the client ends up paying for that process to make that philanthropic donation.
We’ve had some success working with all range of stakeholders from building owners, tenants, their advisors. We’ve had some work with Governments, state and local, and recently we’ve been approached by various furniture manufacturers, Freedom in particular is one, on a pilot project. So feel like there’s a bit of momentum. There’s definitely a steam up for a sustainable approach to things which is exciting.
So where to? Well we’ve got a vision to be the leading commercial re-use platform that delivers ESG and economic value for those who engage with us typically through real estate projects. And that can be unpacked but basically we think there’s a very big gap to provide a logistics and technology solution in this space.
I’ll very quickly go through because I feel that bell’s going to start ringing very soon. Did a job recently for AMP that ended up being almost a consignment selling program where we captured value for that particular project team. It was quite successful actually doing a range of things which included an auction and as well as retail sales and a few other things. But 50 tonne of furniture was rehomed, over 2,000 items which is exciting.
Westpac. You might have seen their logo. We’ve actually done a number of jobs now for Westpac in various states which is exciting. This one in particular was an office decommission and the majority of those items actually went to charity. But again it was facilitating rehoming before it was handed back to the landlord.
Government client make-good. That was again a rehoming and a recycling outcome on that project. I’m getting very excited there about tambour units. Yeah. People question why I get excited but once you’ve been in this space you do get excited when you know there’s going to be a home for these items.
And I mentioned furniture resale. We’ve just started a very small scale but their return stock for Freedom in Sydney. And these items, it’s a huge problem that I can speak to at length about but basically these items are coming to our warehouse at the moment and we’re trying to find people who are interested in buying these units. And there’s practically nothing wrong with them. There might be a little tile here or it was returned because it was the wrong colour etcetera. Yeah. It’s very interesting.
I’ll just keep moving because I know the time. So why partner with Green Furniture Hub? Look the main I think value proposition we offer the corporate world is delivering an ESG outcome, capturing an ESG outcome from materials that are typically being regarded as waste.
We’re in four capital cities. Three I mentioned on the east coast. When I say in capital cities we have the on the ground logistics and we have a rehoming capability. We are more active in Sydney. That might be because I’m based there. But we do have projects happening all around the country.
So that’s me. So I guess the ask is basically if you control or influence workplace change projects that may generate surplus furniture and items think green, think Green Furniture Hub. Give us a call. And we’re also open to any conversations potentially on investment that might want to partner with a group and help us scale. Thank you.
Justin really good job.
I think everyone wants afternoon tea actually. All right. We’ve got one?
Hi Justin. I’m Justin from [1:35:19]. Just wanted to ask on the business model. You might have addressed this but is it all on a job by job basis or do you have any other models like retainer or - - -
In terms of revenue streams or commercial model? Yeah. So it’s a fee for service. We’re a for profit business so it’s a fee for service. So as I mentioned earlier there is generally a budget allocated to clearing a space. We want to capture that budget and we do capture that budget. Some instances it will actually be more than what it would be just to send it straight to landfill. We also offer other services such as consignment selling. We have done furniture audits for the State Government where they just don’t know what’s actually in their buildings which can be a challenge for when they’re doing a relocation project and we come in and we can do audits. Plus I mentioned we’ve got sort of a logistics background sitting behind us so we can offer the relocation, we can offer planning, FF&E logistics, a whole range of things to make the solution viable.
On the other side we’re capturing value on the items. So if we do our job correctly what we want to do is charge the client on one side, charge the customer on the other side, but just enough to keep everyone happy and create that flywheel and we’re in the middle getting a return on our risk as well.
So we have one more pitch and this is from Paul Levins from EverCase. Paul’s not actually one of our cohort. He’s one of our mentors. But we have asked him to pitch today because it’s just such a fantastic example of the sort of innovation that’s happening in the circular economy. Thanks Paul.
[Visual of slide with text saying ‘EverCase’, ‘Freeze time not food’, ‘Presentation by Paul Levins’, ‘Co-Founder’, ‘July 2022’]
Hi everyone. I’m Paul Levins and I’m the co-founder at EverCase. Now Justin you weren’t the only thing standing between afternoon tea. It’s me. Good news is I’ve only got 57 slides so hang on. No. We’ll try and get through this as fast as we possibly can. Can you hear me okay? Is that all right? Goodo.
We’ve had this embedded in our head all afternoon right. All afternoon we’ve been going on about food waste. But I just want you to focus on this for a second even though we’ve heard about it over and over and over again. And I want you to focus on the word obscene. We say it’s a big problem. It is a big problem. It’s a huge problem. But frankly we’re just becoming sort of desensitised to it almost because we’re hearing it so often. We know it’s a huge problem. Everyone who’s dealing with food waste who you’ve seen present today you should absolutely go and invest into right now. Put your money into them. Support them. Advise them. Because all of that is needed to address this. But what we’re trying to do is avoid waste before it turns into waste. So we’re intervening in the food stream especially the cold supply chain. EverCase is a device that keeps food cold, super cold, without actually freezing it.
So why is that important? Because in spite of the incredible job that refrigeration and freezing does for the cold supply chain it actually damages food and we’ll see why that’s the case in a minute. So at EverCase we posed ourselves the question what if you could keep food super cold without actually forming any ice? What if you could drop it to temperatures like -12 without having any ice form around the food? And it turns out that you can. EverCase is a device that keeps food sub-zero, well below zero without any ice formation.
Now why is this important? So we’ll learn about why it damages food in a second. But freezing has done a really good job in the cold supply chain but we can’t freeze everything. So if you go to one of your fish markets for example what you’ll find is that there is an incredible amount of waste at seafood markets because they don’t want to freeze the items or they’ve been frozen and they’re now thawed. And we as consumers either don’t like the look of the item when it’s been thawed or if it isn’t purchased within a given period of time it’s thrown out. So this is why this is a really important intervention in the cold supply chain.
And then there’s a pile of stuff that we can’t freeze now. You think about it. Berries, stone fruits, eggs, egg whites, pastries. All of these things cannot be frozen now and we’re also subject to glut. There’s huge amounts of glut and interseasonality that being able to freeze these items would make a gigantic difference to.
So who’s we? I’ve been talking about we think. Who is we? So that’s me in the middle. I have previously founded a company called Xinova which is a large global innovation network that solves problems for people like Pepsico and Honda and Hyundai and GE and the Gates Foundation and others. I’m also a principal at that organisation on the bottom there called Beanstalk. I’ll talk about them in a sec. And then to the left of me as you’re looking at it Chris Somogyi is co-founder and CEO. Chris is the founder of a thing called BlueNalu for those of you who’ve heard about it. It’s probably the biggest lab grown seafood company in the world, certainly in the United States. He was also the general manager of Callaghan Innovation for those of you that know it out of New Zealand. And then the person on my right as you’re looking at it is Charlotte Guyman. She’s on the board of Berkshire Hathaway, Warren Buffett’s organisation and Brooks running shoes if any of you have purchased those ever.
Beanstalk ag tech, Beanstalk down the bottom there, is also one of the founders of the organisation and they’re Australia’s premier innovation organisation inside of the ag tech and food space. And PARC is the organisation that we spun this technology out of. So Xerox PARC. Some of you might have heard of that. They’re a huge inventive institution globally and invented everything from the mouse – Steve Jobs didn’t – everything from the mouse through to inkjet printers and many other things.
So that’s the sort of founding team as well as a team of other people that sit behind this.
So why did we pick this? Well firstly we really like picking areas where you can truly disrupt. And you think to yourself well you can’t really disrupt freezing can you? It turns out that you can. It’s also very old technology. 1861 it was invented by an Australian, commercial refrigeration and freezing. And it hasn’t changed dramatically and it causes damage to food so we thought it was ripe for disruption. So I’ve mentioned this two or three times now right. So who of you have had this experience when you’ve thawed a steak? See that thing on the left hand side, the bit of meat? You can see that puddle of ooze. I’m saying that deliberately to disgust you. That puddle of ooze is in fact what happens when you thaw a piece of meat or fish. It is in fact water and nutrients, goodness leaking out of the commercial product that you’ve just bought. So that diminishes the quality. And if you’re like me you can never get the result that you would have got out of a fresh item.
You can see those other two items. Most prawns that you buy in Australia, in fact almost all of the prawns we buy globally, are not fresh. They’re always frozen. And as I said I’ve made this point that there’s a pile of things that you can’t freeze, that they turn to mush. We all know that right. So it turns out that if we can intervene to keep these things and give all the advantages of freezing without actually freezing them we’ll be able to reduce waste and prevent it before it occurs.
So this device EverCase fixes all of those problems. It allows food to stay fresh and supple with no damage for months. It has the same antimicrobial effect as freezing. There’s no additives or chemicals. It works inside of existing freezers. So that’s a good thing. You don’t have to throw away your infrastructure and your kit. It uses no moving parts. It uses electric and magnetic fields to be able to intervene between the freezing device and the food. So it doesn’t do any cooling itself. It does this intervention and it does that by – and I suppose the best lay person’s explanation is to say – keeping the water molecules in very minute amounts of movement, nano amounts of movement so that they don’t freeze. They want to but they don’t. They want to but they don’t. So they go through that process. And as you can see it’s modular. So it could fit for example into our domestic refrigerators where there is a huge problem of waste.
Now this was going to be the big reveal right. So you’ll just have to go to the EverCase.cool address to watch this video. But what happens in this video – apparently it’s not working. What happens in this video is that four items actually have been put side by side in a freezer for a couple of nights at -5 degrees, beef and fish, salmon. Now if you put beef or salmon into a freezer for a couple of hours, what happens? You can drive nails with the meat. It’s that hard. It’s rock hard. And the fish is crunchy, it’s lost its textural quality, it’s icy and so on. So its quality is diminished.
EverCase, the same sample that comes out, it’s fresh, the colour is retained, there’s no ice, yet it’s that same temperature. So I’d encourage you to go have a look at the website to see that video in action.
And I should make the point actually before I move on that’s in the lab where we spun the device from, the technology from, which is University of Hawaii. Xerox PARC then took the technology over from University of Hawaii and we’ve spun it out of Xerox PARC.
So it’s the subject of a lot of academic research, nine years of research, 12 major academic papers, 21 prototypes. Incubated at PARC as I’ve said. A couple of patents already issued, seven new ones in process. All of these images on the slides that now appear are renderings that people have asked us to prepare for their industry or for their business.
Starting to get some international media interest around it which is great as you can see there. I won’t read out those headlines but people have got it. Suppleness, freshness, keeping things out of the waste stream.
And that’s led to international partnership interest. So you may or may not know some of these brands. It is astonishing the waste that sits – I asked you to focus on the obscenity of that first image. This organisation, that is the fourth one down, Mercadona which is a Spanish company, has 90,000 employees and 1,600 stores in Spain. They have a $100 million seafood waste problem alone directly related to freezing. That’s one organisation in Spain with a $100 million a year issue to do with freezing just one product line. So this is why this is so phenomenal. And when we took it to them they sort of said ‘Look that’s amazing that you can do months. If you can get us an extra couple of days that’s incredible’. So this gives you a sense of even modest interventions will improve the retention of fresh food.
These are some renderings, again renderings that we were asked to do for people like Simplot to store things like food and vegetables like broccoli.
And then finally we think there’s a new sort of class of food. So it’s not frozen and it’s not completely technically fresh but it’s super-cooled. It is as fresh. And food technicians will tell you that there is something about that that would mean that they can manipulate foods in new and different ways. So there’s this new business model around keeping things fresher for longer but also a whole new class of foods.
You can see that. That’s just a slide that says big markets.
So what’s our ask? So if anyone’s got a $5-7 million cheque in their pocket I’ll have a hat out on the way out the door. So this is a deck that we normally use for venture capital investment so that’s why that number’s there. But where we could really use help is we’d love to have partners or suppliers who would be willing to participate in this. So you’ve seen those renderings earlier. They help us inform what the industry needs in terms of the sort of size and completeness of the storage facilities that they have.
So that’s us. So please spread the word. Let’s keep the food fresh and stop waste.
[Visual of slide with text saying ‘Let’s keep food fresh and stop waste before it starts’, ‘Contact’, ‘Chris Somogyi’, ‘CEO’, ‘Chris@evercase.cool’, ‘+1 (512) 775-5242’, ‘linkedin.com/in.chris-somogyi’, ‘Paul Levins’, ‘Co-Founder & Head of Development’, ‘Paul@evercase.cool’, ‘+61 (0) 419 239 180’, ‘linkedin.com/in/paul-levins’, ‘EverCase’]
You want to put one in every Airbnb don’t you?
Yep. So they’re great questions. So the cost of building one right now as a bespoke item depends on its size, its application and frankly the size of the cheque. So someone like Mercadona will say ‘We want 100 of these and we want to run them in a trial’. And so that’s millions of dollars to do that. But there’s nothing complex or expensive about the materials that it’s made out of. So I think in one of the images there there was a cardboard box. So the materials can apply to cardboard. You have to work out how you get the wires and the magnet back if you want them back. But the point is there’s no moving parts in this. Cheap materials. So the construction of even bespoke things start at around $15,000 now but that’s obviously going to drop in price like anything else as you start to mass produce these things over time.
No. No. That’s the point of the raise. The point of the raise is to say we’ve got customers saying ‘I want one that looks like a saddlebag or I want one that holds tuna or I want one that…’ – so to do all of that and to have people to test it – now in the case of Mercadona, to keep torturing them, they will pay for those trials so we will get an investment. But they want to be able to run a small one themselves to test it out. And so that’s the point of raising the money in the short term so that we can frankly ruggedise them and send them around the world.
No worries. There’s a question down here.
Yeah. That’s a great question. So in the case of something like a domestic refrigerator, or you would have seen some images there of a couple of them sitting in a commercial refrigerator, that’s not meant to be recyclable right. That’s meant to stay in place. The materials are recyclable in and of themselves if at some point it broke. And being no moving parts it shouldn’t. But all of those things could be completely recycled. So the plastics, the electric coil and to a certain extent the magnet. Applying it to a cardboard box, there’s one that we’ve actually sort of beeg applying minds to, and it’s just a matter of how you get the essential items that keep those wave forms running, those fields running back to you, and how do you make that work as a circularity model. We haven’t sort of cracked that yet. But to answer your question in broad, yes they’re recyclable. Materials will be recyclable.
Thanks to all the wonderful start-ups for coming along today and sharing your business models. And thanks to everyone else for coming along and hearing about these innovations. And thanks again to Sustainability Victoria for hosting this event. So please stick around and we’d love to chat to everyone here if you have some time.
There’s a quick survey as well sorry.
[Visual of slide with text saying ‘Boomerang Labs’, ‘Post Event Survey’, ‘Let us know what you thought about the Boomerang Labs Showcase’, ‘Joint at slido.com’, ‘#5799 557’]
Great. So if you use the QR code. And please keep in touch with us at Boomerang Labs. Sign up on our mailing list or Caity and I can provide our details so that we can chat again. Thank you so much. Bye.
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