RADIUS Slingshot Venture to launch Canada’s first Zero Waste grocery storeFeb 12, 2016
A new venture housed at the Beedie School of Business’ social innovation lab RADIUS aims to solve the increasing problem of consumer-generated waste in the world’s oceans – one piece of plastic at a time.
Brianne Miller and Paula Amiama are co-founders of Zero Waste Market, a grocery store that aims to reduce the amount of waste consumers produce.
The store will encourage consumers to bring in their own refillable containers for items such as dried goods, produce, and household cleaners. Containers will be weighed upon entry so that customers only pay for the weight of their purchase.
Miller and Amiama are working with producers, suppliers and consumers to reduce waste at all levels of the food supply chain, exploring steps such as eliminating stickers and zip ties on produce and using upcycled or recycled materials for their store interior.
As a marine biologist, Miller has witnessed firsthand the devastation of marine debris on the oceans. Her experience dealing with marine life affected by plastic pollution inspired her to find a solution to the problem.
“Through my work studying marine mammals I have seen the impact that humans have had on our oceans,” says Miller. “Every problem I came across was linked to our food system. Plastic pollution is a big problem, as so much of our plastic waste inadvertently ends up in the ocean. I felt compelled to do something about that, and this store addresses many of the issues that I am passionate about.”
The zero waste retail model has already achieved success in locations across the globe, including Germany, France, and the US. Miller is confident that Vancouver’s sustainability-minded culture makes it the perfect city to launch the model in Canada.
“Vancouver’s progressive culture, combined with its goal of being the greenest city in the world by 2020, make it an ideal location to launch a venture of this type,” says Miller. “The idea is to start small and hopefully open multiple locations within Vancouver and eventually further afield.”
Miller is a member of the current RADIUS Ventures Slingshot cohort, an intensive six-month program for high impact, growth-ready ventures that is designed to take them to the next level.
This year’s cohort focuses solely on B.C.’s sustainable food sector, with participants receiving hands-on mentorship and collaboration, and education in design thinking and lean start-up methodology.
“Having a Slingshot cohort focus on one specific sector within social innovation creates a different kind of collaboration,” says Donovan Woollard, Director of RADIUS Ventures. “By helping an entire cohort of diversified food ventures strengthen together we aim to create a community of support that will allow these ventures to continue to share lessons and collaborate long after they have left the program.”
Miller is currently running monthly zero waste pop-up shops that have proven extremely popular and are already establishing a loyal consumer fan base. The next step is to open a permanent retail location, which will stock a variety of dry goods, fresh produce, bulk liquids, and household supplies.
“The support that RADIUS has provided has been invaluable in progressing the venture,” says Miller. “The mentorship we have received has taught us an incredible amount about our value proposition, and the access to legal, accounting, and branding professionals is priceless. The network RADIUS offers is also incredibly important – the advice and motivation we receive from our peers is very inspirational.”
For more information on RADIUS Ventures, visit radiussfu.com/what/radius-ventures