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Eat and Back – A “zero-waste” solution to food waste

The first step when dealing with current worldwide problems is identification. Céline Scavennec and her partner Saadia Ouichar recognized the need for an ecological packaging solution in the professional nomad catering industry.

Motivated by the global climate crisis and the impact that food packaging has on it, they decided to act. In 2017, Niiji was born and an ecological lunchbox was launched: Of bio-based material, produced locally, that aims to be a sustainable alternative to petrochemical plastic and to promote local employment, for those who believe that the change starts from inside out.

By attending festivals and concerts, I saw how the concept of reusable cups for € 1 was quickly adopted and had considerably reduced the waste of disposable cups. However, if this solution exists for drinks, it still does not exist for meals. So, I came up with the idea of creating a reusable lunchbox to replace the disposable oneCéline Scavennec at Forum du Développement Durable (Sustainable Development Forum) interview

Picture 1. Céline Scavennec (Source: Forum du Développment Durable, 2019)

Understanding that only in France 334 million take-way food packages are used annually, that 17 billion of euros are spent to treat waste per year, and that around the world about 200 kg of waste is dumped into the oceans every second, the need for a change is urgent. (Niiji, 2019, modified)

When the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) declared that if we continue with the same consumption and production patterns there will be more plastic than fish in the oceans (by weight) by 2050, an innovative product was born looking for a change in the consumers’ behaviours by offering a practical solution accompanied by a digital service that makes it easy, affordable, and appealing.

A practical, virtuous, vertically stackable system inspired by the Japanese “bento” of 500 and 800ml containers for delivery and take-away meals that also offers a customizable lid for restaurant brands.

As Céline expressed to Rev3:

Finally, a zero-waste solution to replace everything disposable in the catering delivered or to take away! Niiji provides its customers with a different and eco-responsible food packaging: preservation of the planet’s resources, reduction of waste, local production creating jobs, social and solidarity economy.

Céline Scavennec at Rev3

 

In a nutshell, the company offers services to catering professionals based on circulation and digital deposit tools, digital recording tools, personalization of the lunchbox, and awareness of waste.

According to Céline:

To undertake it is necessary to be accompanied, to test your idea with its market and especially not to be discouraged. NIIJI is embarking today on the quest for catering professionals who are looking for an alternative to disposable everything.Céline Scavennec at Initiative Lille Metropole Nord)

In the future, the company aims at providing a full range of bio-based food containers of different shapes and sizes to enhance its use on other types of meals, like pizza boxes, gourds, etc. (Rev3, modified)

The lunchbox

The product offers large possible modularity for meals. It is reusable, washable, and recyclable; a truly ecological alternative to disposables. It is made of bioplastic of plant origin guaranteed without endocrine disruptors making it a real and practical alternative to petrochemical plastic, giving respect back to the environment.

Harnessing economic activity, it replaces the packaging budget with a sustainable solution produced locally. The combination of 500ml or 800ml containers that goes in the dishwasher and microwave, which stack and store easily, makes it very convenient.

Innovatively supported by a digital traceability system is added to its eco-conception, design, and responsible philosophy which are truly attractive and rewarding.

The lunchbox’s cover allows companies to customize it with their logos, messages, and illustration markings to brand their image and values. (Niiji, 2019, modified)

Picture 2. Product dimensions. (Source: Niiji, 2019)
Picture 3. Shapes of the lunchbox. (Source: Niiji, 2019)

The app

The digital “locker” service or deposit system allows the consumer to order a meal and choose Niiji as the delivery package by making a depositing of €10 recoverable upon return, or free of charge if they subscribe to the service. (Food Creativ, 2018). It is available for download in Google Store and Apple.

Picture 4 – The cycle. (Source: Niiji, 2019)
  1. You want to choose a takeaway…
  2. But how can you avoid producing waste with disposable packaging?
  3. So, choose to use the Niiji lunchbox!
  4. Register your Niiji lunchbox rental
  5. Treat yourself wherever you are
  6. And return your lunchbox to your next visit!

(Source: Niiji, 2019)

The learnings

Becoming an entrepreneur can always be very challenging but thanks to accelerator platforms, incubators, and other organizations that helped to give a structure to the idea, the concept moved to a tangible solution very rapidly.

This kind of organization also offers something else which is critical to the development of ideas and that is connecting with like-minded people. Here is where Celine met Saadia, the co-founder of Niiji, and where they were able to find the right group of people to develop the idea further, such as designers and product developers.

The Rev3 accelerator is also a way of building confidence in my business creation. It feels good to be collectively faced with the vertigo of business creation, with lots of encouragement and effective coaching that helps you move forwardCéline Scavennec at Rev3

Niiji was born in September of 2017 and the “Eat and Back” zero-waste solution was launched. (Forum du Développment Durable, 2019, modified)

The Team

Céline Scavennec – Founder / Business expertise and sustainable development

Saadia Ouichar – Co-founder / Technical and scientific expertise on bio-sourced materials

Picture 5. The Team. (Source: Kiss Kiss Bank Bank, 2020, modified)

 

References:
• Food Creativ. 2018. Lunchbox Eat and Back. Food Creativ. https://foodcreativ.fr/. Read on April 2020. https://foodcreativ.fr/lunchbox-durable/
• Forum du Développment Durable. 14 – 15, November 2019. Another world is possible; Programme; Speakers. Forum du Développment Durable. https://www.leforumdd.fr/. Read on April 2020. https://www.leforumdd.fr/programme/intervenants.html.
• Kiss Kiss Bank Bank. 2020. Eat and Back, lunchbox “zéro déchet”. Kiss Kiss Bank Bank & Co. https://www.kisskissbankbank.com/. Read on April 2020. https://www.kisskissbankbank.com/fr/projects/eat-and-back-lunchbox-zero-dechet
• Niiji. 2019. https://www.niiji.fr/. Read on April 2020.
• Initiative Lille Metropole Nord. Céline SCAVENNEC, bénéficiaire de deux prêts d’honneur Initiative Lille Métropole Nord. Initiative Lille Metropole Nord. http://www.initiative-lillemetropolenord.fr/. Read on April 2020. http://www.initiative-lillemetropolenord.fr/celine-scavennec-beneficiaire-de-deux-prets-dhonneur-initiative-lille-metropole-nord.html.
• Rev3 – La 3tme Révolution Industrielle en Hauts-De-France. Niiji. Rev3. https://rev3.fr/. Read on April 2020. https://rev3.fr/adn-accelerateurs/accelerateur-imt-lille-douai-2/niiji/.

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