Mary Liu and Caroline Williams, founders of junee
We had the great pleasure to chat with Caroline Williams who told us how she and Mary Liu invented a sustainable reusable packaging system for take-away food. This makes re-use as easy as single-use, which in turn led them to start their own company, junee…
Caroline and Mary met during their studies at London Business School (LBS), bonding over sharing sustainable living tips. Over the countless lunches they ate on campus, they discovered an interesting phenomenon - they were willing to spend extra money on things like sustainably sourced produce and refillable toiletries, but even when they were effectively paid to bring our own reusable container with a BYO discount provided by the LBS canteen, they didn’t do it. Why?
The system for takeaways isn’t designed to help people make sustainable choices. Who wants to carry around a used lunchbowl everywhere? Even though Caroline and Mary were willing to pay a sustainably premium, they weren’t willing to sacrifice convenience. And they weren’t alone.
11 billion pieces of single-use packaging are generated from the UK’s lunch-on-the-go habit every year, most of which can’t be recycled or composted because of contamination and limited infrastructure. This waste ends up in landfill or worse - in our oceans - with food containers & cutlery making up 10% of global ocean litter.
In 2021, Caroline and Mary founded junee to put a dent in that 11 billion. junee’s borrow-and-return system of reusa-bowls makes reuse as easy as single-use. junee supplies partner restaurants with their reusa-bowls, which employees of partner companies can use instead of disposables. Employees return the bowls to convenient in-office return points, and junee collects, cleans, and redelivers them back to restaurants for their next reuse.
"By designing a system around existing habits and bringing together restaurants, companies, and employees, we're helping solve the waste challenge that no one of them can solve alone".
-Caroline Williams, CEO & CofounderSwitching to reusables doesn't just reduce waste - it reduces greenhouse gas emissions. With junee, each reuse removes the need for another single-use container to be manufactured, shipped, and ultimately sent to landfill. While some energy and water are needed to wash the bowls, junee estimates 150g of CO2e is saved with each junee meal. junee is among a growing number of startups focusing on the circular economy, designing businesses that eliminate waste and keep materials in use for as long as possible. It is estimated that circular economy solutions can yield $4.5 trillion in economic benefits by 2030.
"There has never been a better time to rethink business-as-usual. We've got a monumental challenge ahead of us, and with that comes tremendous opportunity. And while governments and corporates are finally waking up, I think it's the passion, determination, and innovations of young people today that will be the foundation of the economy of tomorrow".
-Caroline Williams, CEO & Cofounder
Written by Caroline Williams - Co Founder of junee
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