Reusable packaging being examined in Guelph grocery shops

Looking to pick up a quick meal at the grocery store? Some local stores now have a more sustainable option to bring that food home, thanks to a Guelph company.

Last week, Loblaw announced it was partnering with Friendlier, based in Guelph, to pilot the use of reusable packing for the grocery chain’s home-meal replacement section, replacing the single-use packages typically used to hold food from the hot deli.

“So when you’re getting your lunch at one of those various locations, you’ll be able to get it in a Friendlier container and eliminate all of that waste that would have been produced by using a single-use product,” Kayli Dale, one of Friendlier’s co-founders, told the Guelph Mercury Tribune.

Under the program, customers pay a small deposit for the reusable container and get it back when they return it.

In its news release, Loblaw said the pilot program stems from the company’s environmental, social and governance report. As part of the report released last year, Loblaw said it was committing to make all of its plastic packaging recyclable or reusable by 2025 and cutting all carbon emissions to half of 2020 levels by 2030.

Dale said Friendlier is currently focused on the six-month pilot and ensuring it runs as smoothly as possible, “but of course, if this goes well, our hope is that we can expand this beyond (Guelph), to be able to make an impact across the board.”

Friendlier has made a big splash since its founding in 2020, currently partnering with more than 100 eateries across Ontario, including 27 in Guelph and Wellington County.

Looking ahead, Dale said she hopes to see Friendlier continue to grow and make a difference when it comes to sustainability.

“Everywhere you receive single-use packaging — restaurants, grocery stores, event venues — we want to tackle all of that waste and be able to replace those single-use products with reusable ones,” she said.

“We’ve got a big vision and we’re going after it and I think the market is ready for it. We’ve seen coming out of the pandemic, the shift back toward sustainability and it’s been incredible to see. We’re excited to ride that wave.”

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