According to eco-pioneer Joost Bakker – the man behind Fed Square’s ambitious 87-square-metre home and urban farm Future Food System, who was recently inducted into the Melbourne Food & Wine Festival Legends Hall of Fame for his championing of sustainability – new Melbourne-born online marketplace Returnr is “a game changer when it comes to zero waste”.
So much so that Bakker resurrected Brothl, his zero-waste soup kitchen that closed in 2015, for one day only to celebrate the launch.
The grocery and booze-delivery service (with a difference) is the latest project by Keepcup co-founder Jamie Forsyth. It’s a members-only marketplace that allows you to order everything from fresh fruit and veg to wine, to be delivered in specially designed reusable containers (which Forsyth calls “assets”). Once they’re empty, you simply leave them on your doorstep to be picked up when the next delivery is dropped off – à la the old milk-bottle system.
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Returnr is stocked with more than 100 products (and counting) from loyally followed local brands, including Schulz Organic Dairy milk, Market Lane and Seven Seeds coffee, Prana Chai, Glou wine, Mount Zero Olives products, and Gewurzhaus spices.
There’s also a low-price promise: Returnr will match or beat another retail price on the same product, so you don’t have to pay a premium for a more sustainable service. Better yet, the stainless-steel containers are a shortcut to an aesthetically pleasing pantry (you can finally put a stop to the Tupperware avalanche that happens every time you open the pantry – or is that just us?).
“The underlying point of the platform is that it’s zero waste, but a big part … is that it organises your pantry,” Forsyth tells Broadsheet. “When you get your containers, the idea is you put them directly in your pantry. They stack, they nest, they have function. Everything comes with a label system. It’s colour-coded and it looks really beautiful.
“It’s not like a library, where you have to return a book in two weeks; you just return assets when you’re finished with them,” he continues. “So, for a pre-made meal, you might be done with the asset that night, but you might have a shampoo in a pump bottle for six months.
“We want to make a real material difference to the waste that’s going into and coming out of homes.”