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A Brand New Solution to Take Away Trash: a rave by Toni Ellis

Most days, I wake up to the dreary news about the state of... well just about everything. BUT this week, as I rolled out of bed, I heard a good news story about a mother-daughter team who have developed a new program to address the mountains of garbage generated by take-out dining. Truly, who feels good about all that Styrofoam and plastic?

How much take-out waste are we talking about? Unclear. But research from the Agri-Food Analytics Lab at Dalhousie University estimates that about 4 million more Canadians ordered food online every week since the start of the pandemic.

And, no matter what the blue box instructions say, recycling of these materials is iffy at best. And does anyone else wonder whether unpronounceable chemicals are leaching into our hot dinners? Not to mention the ‘so-called’ biodegradable containers which, to date, remain pretty much intact in my backyard composter.

Enter the mother and daughter duo. Their new company, Ekko, based in Waterloo, Ontario, has come up with a new and improved system. Here’s how it works:

Customers sign up on Ekko’s website and receive an ID number to use when ordering food from one of the participating restaurants. A small upcharge is added to food orders to cover the cost of running the program.

Food arrives in stainless steel containers with a silicone lid. Each is fitted with a NFC tag on the bottom to track their reuse journey. When returning the container, members tap the container on the drop box scanner before placing it into a bin, located at participating establishments. Containers are collected, sterilised and returned to service. When a container reaches the end of its life, after thousands of reuses, it is recycled through TerraCycle.

Ekko is not alone. Suppli is doing pretty much the same thing in Toronto with 10 partner restaurants, as is A Friendlier Company in Guelph, working with restaurants and food stores in the Elora/Fergus and Guelph area.

So, before your next take out dinner, you might want to find out if there is a program near you.

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