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Around, the Solution for a more Sustainable Future

Around, the Solution for a more Sustainable Future
April 13, 2021 0 By Alex Balaniuc

Interview with Daniele Cagnazzo, CMO, Communication and Data & Tech Manager of Around, a green start-up company with the goal of transforming the packaging industry in the food-delivery sector.

Today we’re having a pleasant chat with Daniele Cagnazzo, CMO of Around, a company with its registered office in Florence (and with operational headquarters in Milan) you’ll surely appreciate! Around is an ambitious project born from the minds of Giulia Zanatta, Daniele Cagnazzo and Alberto Garuccio, the “Three Musketeers” who are looking forward to share their sustainable idea for our planet’s future.

Environmental pollution is an increasingly urgent topic for governments around the world, even though promoting a more sustainable and green lifestyle is still an uphill battle. This is why an initiative such as Around becomes not only a flashy “title” for an article, but a project that should be supported, imitated, replicated and shared.

What is Around, exactly? Around is a lot of things: it’s a company, a community, it’s a way of thinking that chose the food-delivery sector as the starting point of its battle against wasteful behavior and pollution. How?

Around creates containers for takeaway food by using bamboo fiber, which is a pretty convenient and reusable material. The innovation promoted by a material that eliminates disposable packaging is also linked to a technological innovation. That’s because to be able to ask for these containers, restaurant owners have to join the “Save-the-Planet-Network”: this downloadable application allows the placing of orders for Around’s products.

Hi Daniele, thank you for your time. First and foremost, we’d like to compliment you about this challenging and exciting project. Let’s start with our classic first question: what can you tell our readers about Around?

Around was born from three well-known concepts: reusability, sustainability and circularity. Just like our tagline says – “Zero Waste Lifestyle” – our mission is to encourage and inspire people to lead a more sustainable and circular lifestyle. The goal is to reduce disposable packaging in the takeaway food and delivery services by favoring smarter and reusable packaging. Not only that, for we aim at establishing a zero-waste lifestyle in the food industry as well, to eliminate the food wastefulness that goes on in the restaurant business on a daily basis.

In other words, with Around by our side we want to build a reusability-ecosystem able to eliminate wastefulness in a new and accessible way for everyone.

How was the idea of Around born and what were the steps you had to go through to make it a reality?

This idea came to mind while on the first lockdown, in the middle of the pandemic. The demand for takeaway and delivery services skyrocketed at that time, and this lead to an increase of the disposable packaging production. This was the catalyst that pushed us to develop a solution that could limit and eliminate the increasing use of disposable packaging in the catering business. We used technology to reinstate the “returnable” custom pertaining to glass bottles: borrow a container, eat your meal, give the container back after you’re done.

Once we implemented this loop, we became busy right away with the development of the product and the software. We made all of our containers “smart”, providing them with a QR code that works with the Aroundrs app.

While the whole world stopped, we tried using the extra time to create something that can positively impact environmental protection.

Your board is comprised of three people. Tell us something about you. What’s the role of each of you? Who was the first to have this idea (don’t argue, though!)?

Giulia, Alberto and I complement each other. We come from different professional backgrounds, but each of us has his/her specific function in the Around project. I manage the business’ development, the finances and the legal aspect of the company. Daniele manages the Marketing & Communication side, apart from the tech, data and analytics side. Alberto Garuccio is our internal advisor, he manages business strategy and the innovation side of the company. As I mentioned, we come from different professional backgrounds, but we all have tasks to follow independently and organically.

The idea came to mind almost by chance. Starting 2020, Giulia and I decided to distance ourselves from our predefined business path, we took the risk of going into entrepreneurship at the cost of our secure careers. Giulia was most definitely the driving force behind this venture, I listened to her and not long after Alberto entrusted us with making this dream come true.

Why did you choose an application as a method for spreading and demanding your containers?

We really needed a way for tracking our containers, a solution that would be easy and accessible to everyone. Thanks to technology, we use apps for everything. That’s why we came up with the idea of providing our containers with a QR code linked to the Aroundrs app. End customers will be able to rent the container from restaurants for free by simply scanning the QR code on the side of the product.

Returning containers will be just as easy, the customer will only have to select the restaurant where to give back the bowl and scan the QR code. That’s it! Easy, right?

By doing so, we’re able to manage the traffic of the containers in each restaurant and monitor the path and the follow up of the container’s return. Also, we can manage the following re-deployment of the packages to every restaurant participating to the network.

Along with the packaging, we saw that you’re also pretty engaged with the restaurants’ meal preparation cost optimization. Can you tell us about your Zero Food Waste program?

A third of the food produced in the world is wasted and doesn’t even make it to the dining table. This wasted food could feed 200 millions of people. Only in Italy, more than 4000 tons of food are thrown away. Our idea is to inspire our aroundrs community into more sustainable consumption habits, while respecting the environment and the existing resources. This is why with our Zero Food Waste program we offer restaurants the chance to promote the products they weren’t able to sell at a reasonable price. By doing so, we’ll create a value chain that rewards everyone: end customers, restaurant owners and the environment.

Through our app, the end customer will be able to choose exactly what on sale product to buy, before going to the restaurant to get their purchased goods at an established time.

Here’s a question for the sake of chatting: according to you, how are we doing in terms of sustainability?

We’re still far away from the hoped outcome, but, at least, we hear more about it now… this has its pros and cons… it’s good because many researches show the increasing awareness of the population in regards to this topic over the last few years. Many consumers are in fact eager to spend a little bit more for goods, products or services if it means making their lifestyle more sustainable and respectful towards the environment. On the other side, though, the easy-marketing machine and greenwashing are exploiting the word “sustainability”, which is sometimes used incorrectly and without a real awareness of its meaning.

There’s definitely the need of more credibility and action to protect the environment and organize a sustainable development plan… and the institution of a ministry for ecological transaction might be a good start. From our part, Around will help us build a circular and sustainable ecosystem for all parties involved, so that everyone can get something good out of it, while respecting the environment and the planet we live in.

Let’s satisfy a curiosity: why the name “Around”?

It’s named Around because our containers are available in many restaurants around the city. The idea is to use these bowls completely freely, at the office, at the park, at home… while being around, basically. Then there’s the possibility of returning it in every restaurant that is a part of the Around network, in the same city. Plus, our logo recalls circularity, given its rounded shape, including the two arrows that indicate the use of the container: the borrowing of the bowl and its return at the end of the service.

What are your goals for the future? Any expectancies?

Around’s long-term mission is to eliminate the necessity of using disposable packaging, and consequently reducing packaging pollution. Even though some big companies made a shy attempt at it, this practice is still not widespread enough. Currently, we’re betting on Milan, and we hope to gain a good first round of investors by the end of this year; our start-up company’s goal is to expand in other regions as quickly as possible, to cement Around as a supporter and promoter of circular economy in Italy and in the whole world.

For this reason we’re already setting in motion professionals scattered on the national territory who serve as City Managers, because we aim at reaching multiple cities and make other restaurants join us. We expect a good response from the younger generations, to inspire them, give them new ideas and fight together for our planet’s well-being.