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Do not waste, do not want | Otago Daily Times News Online

A reuse revolution is potentially hitting Dunedin.

Businesses are encouraged to participate in a new initiative for a reusable take-out container system – similar to borrowing a book from a library – to help reduce the amount of waste generated by single-use packaging products.

This is a charity Taste Nature Social Enterprise, coordinated by Brian McFarland, in conjunction with Business South, the Again Again returnable packaging scheme and the Dunedin City Council waste management fund initiative.

Taste Nature’s managing director, Clinton Chambers, said his company represents “everything that is sustainable, organic and natural” as much as possible.

Part of its values ​​and business goals was minimizing waste and reducing environmental impact.

Mr. McFarland was one of the customers of the organic supermarket and cafe; a like-minded person who wanted to do something to create change, Chambers said.

Such a project required engagement with business and a level of administrative work to “get things done”.

Previous similar programs had failed because they did not necessarily work if they were not accompanied by support.

Mr McFarland loved takeout – his partner was a nurse and he worked for a US-based software company – so working irregular hours meant ready meals were an easy fix.

What he didn’t like was all the trash created.

He tried to solve this problem on an individual level, bringing reusable containers to food outlets – some took them and some didn’t.

He started to do research, to figure out how a system could work.

He spoke to restaurants and cafes, including Mr Chambers of Taste Nature, and decided a bigger program was needed.

He and Mr Chambers agreed that it should be an easy system for everyone involved and that one of the hardest things was getting started.

Having someone like Mr. McFarland to lead and organize it was key to the success of the project.

It was about relieving businesses of the hassle, Mr Chambers said.

The first phase of the project was market research and a small grant had been obtained from the DCC.

Mr McFarland would speak to businesses face-to-face and secure expressions of interest, hopefully by September 15.

From there, the second phase would apply to DCC waste minimization grants.

Applications for these grants are open through September 30, and contestable funding of $70,000 is available this year for local businesses working to reduce waste.

If successful, Mr. McFarland would then roll out the initiative in companies and spend three months in a support role to set it up and launch it.

Part of the funding would be used to subsidize starter packs that companies had to buy.

Customers used an app to scan the containers – just like a library – and, if they didn’t return them, they were charged for a replacement.

Containers could also be purchased and uploaded to the system.

People seemed “super excited” about the initiative; they had wanted something similar but a good solution was needed, Mr. McFarland said.

The pair shared a dream for Dunedin to lead the country in minimizing waste.

Business South encourages businesses to get on board – Director of Business Growth and Sustainability Tara Druce said it’s not just good for the planet but also good for business.

“It’s great to see the Taste Nature Trust taking the lead on this initiative.

“Consumers are looking for waste-free alternatives and this initiative meets that demand while, over time, reducing business costs,” she said.

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