The Rounds launched in Philadelphia in 2019 with a very simple mission — to make home delivery of what they call “the boring stuff” as sustainable and as effortless as possible.
“It’s hard to ask people, even those that are as sustainability minded as our members, to make big sacrifices in the name of sustainability,” The Rounds head of sustainability and service design Evan Abel acknowledges.
To create this ease, The Rounds offers residents in Philly, Miami, Atlanta and Washington D.C. home deliveries of everyday products like hand soap, cleaning supplies and pantry items such as pasta and nuts in reusable containers. They also offer essentials such as toilet paper, and a growing selection of local food products.
The goal is sustainability, and when it aligns with economics, it’s a lot easier for us to make these initiatives a priority.”
— Evan Abel, The Rounds head of sustainability and service design
Seeking out local brands not only spurs the city’s economy, but also gives The Rounds more control over bulk buying. In Philadelphia, The Rounds partners with Bean2Bean Coffee Co. to receive bulk coffee in reusable 50-gallon drums, which they use to fill reusable glass Mason jars, virtually eliminating all waste. The Rounds is looking to expand on these options as well as use their growing market influence to get even larger brands to reduce the packaging of the bulk items that are sent to The Rounds.
But Abel is just as excited about expanding sustainability initiatives within the company.
The first “boring” yet high impact sustainability initiative Abel points out is the switch from cloth tote bags to 100% post-consumer recycled plastic tote bags to deliver their products. While The Rounds had difficulty finding recyclers for the cotton tote bags when they reached their end of life, the manufacturer of their new plastic tote bags has committed to taking the bags back at the end of their life to recycle into new bags.
Abel also points out that, since these bags are easier to clean, they last longer and hold more material in a stabler way than the cotton bags, thus reducing how many bags they actually need to use.
This commitment to greater efficiency was also applied this year to improving their understanding of how their products move throughout the consumer chain and back into their inventory. This is what The Rounds calls “reverse logistics” and is aided by the use of QR codes on all of their containers.
These QR codes allow for The Rounds to know what containers each member has so they can better track their return rate. As this technology grows, The Rounds is also planning in 2023 to incorporate more gamification for members such as loyalty rewards programs where their customer service staff — dubbed “psychic home managers” — can better communicate with and incentivize members to make sure that containers are returned, helping The Rounds realize their mission of 100% circular packaging.
And to get those products to your door, The Rounds has invested in a fleet of e-bikes in each city they serve. Not only do these e-bikes offer zero-emission transportation for delivery, they also reduce traffic congestion. The Rounds has determined that they can even more efficiently deliver to apartment complexes by using electric vans, which they are also investing in for 2023.
“The goal is sustainability, and when it aligns with economics, it’s a lot easier for us to make these initiatives a priority,” explains Abel. “We save money, members save money, and the planet saves these negative externalities of single-use waste. It’s great.”
Looking to go zero-waste in the new year? Use code “GRID15″ here for 1 FREE month of membership AND a $15 credit to The Rounds.”