Photo: Amy Reid                                From left: Kwantlen Polytechnic University students Carson Hewlett, James Anderson and Katrina Stevenson with sugarcane containers they’re selling through their Sweet Takeaways business.

Photo: Amy Reid From left: Kwantlen Polytechnic University students Carson Hewlett, James Anderson and Katrina Stevenson with sugarcane containers they’re selling through their Sweet Takeaways business.

Kwantlen Polytechnic University

Surrey ‘foam-free Vaisakhi’ initiative inspires ‘Sweet Takeaways’ business

KPU students launch business selling sugarcane takeout containers as alternative to foam, single-use items

A group of business students at Kwantlen Polytechnic University are hoping they can get local restaurateurs to sign on to a sweet solution to takeout containers.

Dubbed “Sweet Takeaways,” a trio of KPU Entrepreneurial Leadership students have launched a business as part of their program.

Their idea was inspired by Surrey’s “foam-free Vaisakhi” project, launched in 2018 by two brothers with a vision to see vendors at the annual parade ditch their foam for environmentally friendly sugarcane products.

“We got thinking a little bit about packaging and those kind of things that are common to our daily lives and one of those ways that we can personally reduce our own waste is through disposable products,” said James Anderson, one of the three KPU students who launched Sweet Takeaways.

The KPU students partnered with Baljit and Sarbjit Singh Sabharwal, who have created the Balsar Community Foundation following their efforts at Vaisakhi.

Just like the Sabharwal’s did with Vaisakhi vendors, the students have been seeking out businesses who will make the switch to “sugarcane bagasse” products that typically decompose within 60 days – a far cry from foam, which stays in landfills for hundreds of years. At Vaisakhi, it’s estimated such a switch could divert as many as three million foam items from ending up in the landfill annually, and the KPU students say they see the value of the move in the business world.

READ MORE: VIDEO: Surrey brothers work toward a ‘Foam-Free Vaisakhi’

Anderson said the idea made sense because many cities are eyeing bans on foam and other single-use containers.

“Vancouver has their own ban incoming in January and they’re going to completely ban foam, single-source containers,” he said. “We could see the difference in municipalities who are forward-thinking. Surrey is one of them that has that kind of ban tabled, but a lot of them are still in the stage of asking and eventually getting there. I think Richmond is going to switch soon as well. So it is a really hot-button issue and it is something that a lot of restaurants are conscious of.”

Before embarking on their business venture, Anderson said the team was a bit concerned about saucy products and how the sugarcane packaging would hold up. But he said they discovered the sugarcane containers held up for a day or two, and beyond that, food would need to be transferred.

“It works functionally for takeout restaurants,” Anderson explained. “A couple of restaurants that we spoke to had either previously tried different products, cornstarch being one of them, or even paper products. But this one was the one that we found was the most functional.”

One of the other students on the project, Carson Hewlett, said they’ve been targeting sushi restaurants to start. “But we’re not discriminating in terms of what types of restaurants were kind of going after. The bigger chains, they’re going to have suppliers for this stuff already but a lot of the smaller ones that aren’t dealing with those those kind of larger suppliers. They’re the ones who are looking for products like this.”

The business project wraps up as the semester concludes in December, but Hewlett said there are some restaurants they may connect to their supplier. After all, the project was all about making an impact, he said.

The third student on the project, Katrina Stevenson, said people are “realizing the power of speaking with their dollars”.”

“I’ve noticed in Vancouver, you’ll go into a coffee shop and they’ll charge if you want to take a reusable or a to-go cup and they’ll just donate it to like a foundation that helps with sustainability initiatives,” she said. “They’re putting some sort of fee, trying to incentivize people even though they’re still going to donate it, just to try and help people make that transition and so it’s cool.”

“The business community is kind of following what consumers are saying they want and consumers also being pushed by business leaders.”

Get in touch with the students at sweettakeaways@outlook.com.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Longtime basketball coach Allison McNeill is worried that the COVID-19 pandemic will adversely affect high-school athletes with university athletic aspirations. (Garrett James/Langley Events Centre photo)
COVID-19: Young athletes scrambling for scholarships, opportunities amid pandemic

‘They lost their whole Grade 12 year’ says Semiahmoo basketball coach Allison McNeill

When his owner had knee surgery, Kevin, 2, was able to continue to go for walks thanks to volunteers from Elder Dog Canada. (Contributed photo)
White Rock woman among dozens in Lower Mainland to benefit from Elder Dog program

Dog-care organization has a fleet of volunteer walkers ready, but requires more clients to serve

Travis Selje with Rex, the family dog he got to enjoy for the final six months of his life. (Submitted photo)
Defence says evidence ‘compelling, overwhelming’ to acquit Surrey woman in deadly crash

Epileptic seizure caused fatal crash that killed Travis Selje, lawyer argues in final submissions

TEASER
WATCH: Surrey-made anti-bullying video urges youth to #BlockEmDontShareEm

“Break the chain by deleting the image and never forwarding – not even to a best friend’

File photo by Tom Zytaruk
Surrey 2021 tree sale begins Friday

City of Surrey says it’s selling quality trees for $20 each

Dr. Bonnie Henry talk about the next steps in B.C.'s COVID-19 Immunization Plan during a press conference at Legislature in Victoria, B.C., on Friday, January 22, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
456 new COVID-19 cases in B.C., 2 deaths

Since January 2020, 78,278 have tested positive for the novel coronavirus in B.C.

A health-care worker prepares a dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at a UHN COVID-19 vaccine clinic in Toronto on Thursday, January 7, 2021. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette)
Vaccinating essential workers before seniors in B.C. could save lives: experts

A new study says the switch could also save up to $230 million in provincial health-care costs

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

The late Michael Gregory, 57, is accused of sexually exploiting six junior high students between 1999 and 2005. (Pixabay)
Former Alberta teacher accused of sexually assaulting students found dead in B.C.

Mounties say Michael Gregory’s death has been deemed ‘non-suspicious’

A woman boards a transit bus through rear doors, in Vancouver, on Friday, March 20, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
TransLink slow to reveal crucial details about ransomware attack, says union

Union says company took months to admit what info was stolen, including SIN and bank account details

According to a new poll, a majority of Canadians want to see illicit drugs decriminalized. (THE ASSOCIATED PRESS)
Majority of Canadians think it’s high time to decriminalize illicit drugs: poll

More than two-times the B.C. residents know someone who died from an overdose compared to rest of Canada

Photograph By @KAYLAXANDERSON
VIDEO: Lynx grabs lunch in Kamloops

A lynx surprises a group of ducks and picks one off for lunch

(Black Press Media file photo)
B.C. residents can reserve provincial camp sites starting March 8

B.C. residents get priority access to camping reservations in province

Most Read