Bold Reuse works with the NBA’s Portland Trail Blazers. (Portland Trail Blazers / Justin Tucker Photo)

Portland, Ore.-based Bold Reuse, a startup providing reusable dishes and food containers paired with environmental analytics, is setting up shop in Seattle.

The company is partnering with Seattle Public Schools for a pilot project of the waste-cutting service, and has longer-term contracts with a Seattle private school and the catering business Lish. The expansion into the region includes opening a 9,000-square-feet dishwashing facility in the city’s Chinatown-International District.

Bold Reuse provides durable plates, cups and food containers to customers that the startup picks up — often on a daily basis — and replaces with foodware that has been washed and sanitized. The items are made from heavy-duty plastics, glass or steel. The reusable supplies often are replacing single-use plastics and Styrofoam products that would otherwise go to landfills or have limited potential for recycling.

Bold Reuse serves fans of the NBA’s Portland Trail Blazers and visitors to the Oregon Convention Center.

“This is becoming a standard across a lot of sports teams to implement reusable foodware,” said Bold Reuse co-founder Heather Watkins. “Most of them have a zero-waste goal that they’re trying to hit.”

Research shows that compared to single-use dishes and containers, the reusable alternatives save water, energy and natural resources, Watkins said. And over the past year, the startup implemented changes to make their own operations more efficient, cutting their water use by 41% and energy consumption by 67%.

Bold Reuse cofounder Jocelyn Quarrell (left) and Heather Watkins. (Bold Reuse Photo / Kobee Mendoza)

In 2021, the startup participated in a pilot project at five Starbucks locations in Seattle — the coffee giant’s first foray into reusable, returnable cups. During that three month period alone, the use of Bold Reuse cups kept 10,000 single-use cups from being tossed.

Bold Reuse has developed a tool for customers to calculate the amount of waste they’re diverting by using its service. The company also manages customer inventory needs and shares analytics on the loss, return and replacement rates for the reused foodware.

The service is roughly comparable in price to compostable foodware, but more expensive than Styrofoam, Watkins said.

The startup’s competitors include r.Cup and parent company r.World, which are providing reusable cups to customers including Seattle’s WAMU Theater, a venue that’s part of Lumen Field, and at Seattle’s ZooTunes at Woodland Park Zoo. Turn Systems, Pyxo and Loop provide reusable dishware to customers internationally.

Seattle’s Climate Pledge Arena has received accolades for its environmental efforts, and last year became the first sports stadium in the world to receive Zero Carbon certification from a nonprofit promoting sustainable buildings. The venue for now is mostly using recyclable aluminum cups, but Rob Johnson, senior vice president of sustainability and transportation for the arena and the Seattle Kraken hockey team, is a fan of Bold Reuse.

Fully reusable dishware is “the future,” Johnson said by email. “But we’re not there yet.”

Receptacles for returning reusable cups. (Portland Trail Blazers Photo / Justin Tucker)

Bold Reuse initially launched as GO Box in 2011, providing reusable takeout containers. Jocelyn Quarrell acquired the business in 2018, and rebranded it four years later. Quarrell, who is CEO, shifted the company’s focus to dishes and cups in closed loop systems such as stadiums and schools where fans and students use and return the items on site, rather than taking them home and bringing them back, as they would with containers for takeout food or groceries.

Before joining Bold Reuse in early 2022, Watkins was the head of growth marketing at Impossible Foods, the Bill Gates-backed meat alternative company.

Angel investors have supported the startup so far. The company has 19 employees. The partnership with seven schools within Seattle Public Schools includes funding from a Washington state program promoting waste reduction. In three weeks, Bold Reuse will start operating in Kansas City, Mo. Watkins also hinted at upcoming new deals on corporate campuses and with customers in the Southwest.

The agreement with Seattle Academy, a private middle and high school in the Capitol Hill neighborhood, was spearheaded by a high school senior named Griffin Schwartz.

“In just one year of implementing reuse, we’ll prevent 50,000 plates from being wasted in just the middle school,” Schwartz said in a statement. “It’s been amazing to see how many administrators got on board when they understood the environmental impact.”

Source: Geek Wire


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