Love your waste transforms bio-waste into energy
Love Your Waste is changing our vision of waste, allowing us to see it not as a problem but a resource, and a terrific economic and social opportunity. Read on to learn more about a startup that is living up to its name.
Love Your Waste (and it will love you back)
With one foot in the circular economy and the other in the social economy, Love Your Waste organizes the sorting, collection and recovery of food scraps from canteens in companies, schools, hospitals, etc. A reintegration company for long-term unemployed people oversees the transport of this organic waste to an anaerobic digestion factory, where it is converted into energy and natural fertilizer.
For an extra charge of a few cents per meal, the startup provides canteens with a turnkey solution to managing their bio-waste. Love Your Waste doesn’t just focus on waste collection; it also leads change management actions in communities in order to raise awareness about food wastage and involve as many people as possible. “Many people are open to the idea of sorting their leftovers, but they don’t necessarily understand the concrete impact this has,” explains Tanguy Desandre Navarre, Operations Manager at Love Your Waste. “By giving them the keys to understanding, we allow them to grasp the purpose and the importance of waste sorting.” He likes to tell the story of how the children at one school were so excited about waste recovery that they started to eat less in order to create more renewable energy. Finally, the company advises establishments to help them minimize food wastage: “We have developed a methodology to study the factors of bio-waste production in a restaurant so that we can tell establishments how much they're actually throwing away and why, how much it costs them and how to minimize this wastage.”
In 2016, this global approach earned Love Your Waste the Impact Prize from the European Commission. “An independent study showed that we helped reduce CO2 emissions by 25% compared with traditional waste treatment,” says Juliette Franquet, CEO of Love Your Waste. “Today, 12,000 people sort waste from their canteen and understand the importance of doing so. We’ve given ten long-term unemployed people work opportunities and trained them to find long-term work in emerging sectors.”
Indispensable synergies between startups
The idea for Love Your Waste came from Jérôme Perrin, who, with 30 years of professional experience and civic commitment behind him, became an entrepreneur late in life. Juliette and Tanguy joined him in 2014. This intergenerational team saw the ‘polluter pays’ principle (which makes waste producers responsible for the cost of recycling) as an opportunity to create a profitable business with the greatest environmental and social impact possible. For a year, they studied reports from the Ministry of the Environment, visited anaerobic digestion units, canteens, reintegration companies, etc. At the end of 2014, they joined SenseCube, the social incubator of MakeSense, a partner of Societe Generale, which supported them for eight months, allowing them to develop a prototype and construct their services one by one. In 2016, the startup saw dramatic growth. Le Plateau, which has hosted and supported the startup’s founders since November 2016 offers them a ‘friendly’ physical space, in Juliette's words, to consolidate and accelerate this growth. It also provides training sessions and cooperative dialogue with other startups to help them best approach this new stage in their development.
It’s a win-win collaboration, as Love Your Waste contributes to the implementation of positive environmental measures at Societe Generale: “Love Your Waste is a startup that addresses two issues that concern us all: food wastage and waste recovery. The founders provided Societe Generale Group with innovative and effective solutions to these two issues, helping us meet the goal of reducing our environmental footprint,” explains Flore Jachimowicz. For the Le Plateau and Partnerships Manager, their residency also aligns with the Group’s desire to host entrepreneurs with a diversity of profiles: “When Le Plateau hosts startups in sectors of activity very different from our own, it is clearly enriching: our diversity is always a strength.”
Whether SenseCube or Le Plateau, Juliette and Tanguy emphasize the importance of synergies formed in third places.“These places are important because they offer a space outside of the bustle of work, where entrepreneurs can meet and exchange a variety of best practices,” explains Juliette. Tanguy adds: “It’s when we receive help from someone with skills we don’t have, when we help someone on a project completely different from our own, that we gain perspective and evolve, both as a company, and as individuals.” For the young man, being an entrepreneur means being always “a little bit better than the day before. This process can be a bit painful at times, but it allows you to develop your full potential.” All in the service of reaching their next growth objectives: to gain a new client every week, to increase the volume of waste treated and to set up operations in new regions over the next three years.
WHAT IS ANAEROBIC DIGESTION?
Anaerobic digestion is the biological process of breaking down organic material in the absence of oxygen. This process can be reproduced and accelerated in a digestor, which generates gas that can be transformed into renewable energy.