This is one in a series of interviews with CFIN member companies that have successfully applied for and received funding.
Earthware Reusables Inc. is a return-for-reuse takeout container service located in Calgary, AB. Since launching in November 2021 the company has stopped approximately 15,000 single-use takeout containers from going into landfills. Earthware’s growth has been quite incredible and the company now needs to invest in facilities for Calgary and expansion to Edmonton. Earthware received $41,075 for the development of durable and UV-resistant hemp reinforced polypropylene composite for vacuum forming of reusable food containers.
We spoke with John MacInnes, founder of Earthware, to learn more about the company and its plans.
Q: What is your company’s mission?
A: Earthware’s mission is to stop billions of single-use takeout containers from being garbage on our streets or entering our landfills.
Q: Why did you apply for this funding and how will you use it?
A: Our goal is to create a reusable takeout container that has never existed before. Key aspects are:
- Durability, the container must survive thousands of uses.
- During those thousands of uses the container will have many different types of foods and cannot stain.
- The container must be able to survive hot sun and freezing cold temperatures.
- The container must be able to endure thousands of washes in a commercial dishwasher.
- The container will travel from restaurants to customers to bottle depots. There will be very harsh conditions that the container must endure.
- The container must come out of commercial dishwashers clean and dry.
- The container should have some antimicrobial features to help with food safety.
- At the end of the container’s useful life it must be able to break down in existing recycling systems or be reused to create a new container.
Q: What excites you most about working in this area of the food industry?
A: Our impact is very visible and easy to quantify. Every time we wash an Earthware container, a single-use container did not end up as garbage on our streets or in our landfills.
Q: Why is collaboration so important for accelerating innovation in the food industry? Is it difficult to find good collaborating partners, and what would make the process easier?
A: Our partner, SAIT University, has the know how and expertise to help us attain our goal of a better material for our containers.
Q: Please comment on the importance of public funding to help companies clear innovation hurdles and access leveraged funds.
A: Innovation is so tough for investors to get behind because they want a return. Public funding allows companies like Earthware to prove an innovation without the need for a proven return.
Q: Looking ahead, what’s on the horizon for your company?
A: We are very lucky to have raised operating funds from investors like Social Enterprise Fund and others. With that capital our incredible growth is set to multiply exponentially this year with a new business model made possible by an agreement with the Alberta Bottle Depot Association. Our partners will charge a small deposit on all Earthware containers and consumers can retrieve a portion of that deposit by returning Earthware containers with their bottles and cans. This is the big break that we needed to hit our vision of scaling to one million containers in circulation by 2025.
Q: What are your passions or hobbies outside of work?
A: Family, skiing, hiking and travel.
Q: If you had to pick one person to make you a meal, who would you choose?
A: My Mom. I miss her love and cooking, every day.
Ready to access funding for your innovative initiative? Click here to find out more about CFIN’s funding programs.