Boulder has a goal to make 85% of its waste or waste be recycled, and food containers to get a large portion of this waste.
This is what the RepEATer app developed by two Boulder residents is looking to change.
Chris Todd and Aushwin Ramdas have developed the app that seeks to reduce the amount of waste produced when ordering the receipt. Instead of disposable plastic or similar containers, RepEATer uses containers that can be used 2,000 times before they need to be disposed of.
“Before we went on stage, there were a handful of people who cared enough to bring their reusable containers to businesses,” Todd said.
However, with the closure of COVID-19, few businesses were willing to make use of the containers provided by customers. Much of this was driven by fears that people could spread the virus through containers, creating more hassle in restaurants.
In the run-up to the pandemic, the food distribution industry was estimated to be around $ 82 billion, according to a Forbes article published in 2019. That figure was projected to double by 2025.
“With that comes waste: disposable products, whether they are compostable, compostable or recyclable,” Todd said. “And we thought he was a beginner to get us where we need to go as a people.”
The town of Boulder seems to agree with Todd and Ramdas. In 2015, Boulder approved a zero-waste plan that would see the city move toward sustainable waste practices. This would include an overall goal of being 85% of the road to waste disposal by 2025.
“We can’t recycle the way out of this problem,” says Jamie Harkins, a sustainability coordinator for Boulder City and Lafayette Mayor. “We are learning it on a national scale very quickly.”
According to the EPA, almost 45% of the materials in our landfills now come from food waste and packaging used for them. Undoubtedly, not all of them come directly from our receiving containers, but it is a large enough number to make some take action.
By 2025 just three and a half years away, Boulder is composting or recycling only about 50% of its waste (as of 2019). Compare that to other cities such as San Francisco (80%) and Portland (70%) and find that an extra 35% seems unattainable.
Harkins said it is important to note that different cities measure these statistics differently. Moreover, Boulder has begun to redefine climate goals.
“We are now examining how we move beyond recycling and composting to a circular economy,” Harkins said. A circular economy is one that seeks to keep things in use for longer, thus eliminating waste.
RepEATer is moving towards a circle-based economy, with their stainless steel boxes made from a minimum of 35% stainless steel. After 2,000 uses, the boxes can be recycled at no lost value, Todd said.
As a lifelong member of the restaurant industry, Todd said he wants to leave a positive impact on a community that has been good for him.
“I’ve spent most of the last 21 years on the Boulder and Denver restaurant scene,” he said. “I wanted to return something positive that could change the industry for the better.”
RepEATer is currently partnering with Leaf, Fresh Thymes Eatery, Daughter Laked, and Zeal. RepEATer is also looking for new business partners and interested restaurants can get in touch with the team at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The app is available for free in the Apple App Store and Google Play store.