For this Homegrown Business profile we are featuring Greenlid, a company that is is keeping us thinking sustainably by exiting out of the single use plastic world and back into a clean and green environment. We sat down with Morgan Wyatt, Co-founder of Greenlid to find out more about what they do.
What is your business called and what does it do?
Greenlid is a major producer of truly compostable, sustainable products that are a solution to many single use plastics, that often end up in landfills and impact the environment across the country. The company was founded in 2014 by Morgan & Jackson Wyatt, brothers from Brockville, ON who both now live in Toronto.
Morgan & Jackson got their start on Dragons’ Den with a successful pitch for their truly compostable compost bin made from end-of-life recycled cardboard and a bio-based additive that makes it leak proof. The compostable compost bin was developed by Morgan who holds a PhD in Chemistry.
In the last several years, Greenlid changed its focus to disposable tableware and foodservice items made from natural materials rather than ‘compostable‘ plastics or bioplastics. The products are truly compostable and can be processed in facilities across North America. This includes using 100% sustainably sourced birch to make strong, sharp cutlery, wheat stalks for drinking straws, palm leaves for plates, bamboo for cups, takeout containers and more.
What made you want to do this work?
Six years ago municipalities across Canada were beginning to collect organic waste every week and garbage every other week to encourage organic waste collection. However, the municipalities plan to help Canadians collect waste was to provide a plastic bucket and use of ‘compostable’ plastic bags. We thought this was ineffective as they always leaked, had an odor and after speaking with facilities, not very compostable.
In true ‘eureka moment’, we thought why not make the whole kitchen compost bin from compostable materials. This would eliminate the need for Canadians to clean their compost bin again or deal with dirty waste. The idea to provide an easy way for Canadians to divert their organic waste from landfills and reduce the emissions of Greenhouse gases that it causes, inspired us to make a difference.
We are uniquely positioned with our customers to understand their needs and wants for something that is truly compostable and sustainable. We provide honest solutions that we know will compost at home and facilities, rather than products who claim composability yet are not accepted in any processing facility in the country. We don’t want to be a stop gap approach to sustainability, we want to make real change to help manage plastics use and the environment better.
What problem does this solve?
We are currently solving two major issues for North American retailers, foodservice providers and restaurants. There is often a single person or team in charge to manage retail products or takeaway materials in municipalities across North America that all have their own rules around single-use plastics and composting. A lot of expertise is required to understand how different products are made, what they are made from and how they are disposed with at the end of the day.
The first major issue these decision makers face is the impending single use plastics bans in Canada (but also across the US in various states & municipalities) that includes products like plastic cutlery, straws and hard to recycle plastics (including products made of compostable plastics).
The second issue is the variability in compost standards across the continent. Waste is often managed at the local level, with no single standard existing for composting across Canada.
Morgan’s background in chemistry helped develop materials, particularly molded fiber products, to provide leak and oil resistance without the use of harmful chemicals. Greenlid’s focus on natural materials and its experience developing its original compost bin allows it to create new products with both municipal and backyard composters in mind, helping advise decision makers in the world they are facing around plastics management.
Who are your clientele/demographics?
Greenlid is for everyone. If you have ordered take-out, delivery, used disposable plates, drank a coffee from a disposable cup with a plastic lid we have a more sustainable product for you.
In addition to everyday households, we focus on advising major North American retailers in tableware sections, and back of house packaging materials. We work with some of the largest foodservice distributors and restaurant companies that are re-defining the importance they play in selecting products that are good for their customer and the planet.
How does your business make money? How does it work?
Greenlid develops and identifies new technologies and materials that truly are compostable. We sell to major retailers; both our branded Greenlid products and also supply as a Private Label provider for individual sustainable brands. We work with major foodservice distributors, local restaurants, coffee shops and major brands in designing their own custom foodservice packaging solutions.
Where in Toronto can we find your profession?
We are fairly unique with our skillset and offer solutions across Canada – I don’t think there is one person in Toronto or Canada that does not touch a product that we make.
What is the best question a prospective customer could ask a member of your profession when comparing services? Give the answer as well.
What makes your products different than other suppliers who provide compostable products?
We are driven by science, what is right long-term and not a stop gap approach. We understand from a chemistry and environmental point of view what goes into our products and how they are processed at the end. We stayed strong to our principles as a planet-first company, ensuring we always avoid adding harmful chemicals to our molded fibre products even though it was industry standard. We are driven to create a Canada-wide composability standard that everyone can use and believe in it at both a consumer and processor level.
What is the best part about what you do? What is the worst part?
The best part is the impact we make on the environment, while continuing to be a good business decision for our customers.
If an average size grocery store replaced its plastic cutlery with Greenlid sustainable birch cutlery, there will not be a reduction in sales. The single grocery store would eliminate almost 100 kg of plastic from entering the landfill. Imagine this on a nationwide level.
The worst part these days can be the isolation during COVID, especially while we are growing so rapidly. Hiring new people onto the team, teaching them about our products, adopting the company culture during such an exciting time in the company is difficult for us.
What is your favourite joke about your own profession?
Saying in a sales meeting: “I think we can all agree that paper straws ‘Suck’….. or ‘Don’t Suck’ for that matter!” Followed by how wheat straws are non-soggy, gluten-free and the reason a straw is called a straw!
PAY IT FORWARD: What is another Toronto business that you love?
Checkout Nudnik! They produce fun and creative children’s clothing from textile waste that would have ended up in the landfill. Founded by two sisters who wanted to make a big change in how we manage textile waste. https://nudniklife.com/
Also BinBreeze – Binbreeze.ca.