Meet the Grocery Service That Delivers in Reusable Containers

Delivering refillable household staples to your door.


Groceries are delivered in reusable canvas bags.

(Courtesy The Rounds)

Do you love online grocery shopping but you don’t want all the extra packaging that your order comes with? What if you could find an eco-friendly company that delivers refillable and reusable containers directly to your home? If you are interested in finding sustainable solutions, then a Philadelphia, Pennsylvania-based startup could be just what you are looking for.

The Rounds, a zero-waste grocery service might be the right solution for you. The startup refills your staples from food to cleaning supplies, reported the Philadelphia Magazine’s Be Well Philly .

In large cities online shopping and delivery has been growing and with  environmental awareness on the rise, consumers are demanding more eco-friendly brands. The Rounds is doing more than just filling a niche market.

In the beginning
The Rounds’ co-founder Alexander Torrey told Be Well Philly that one of the factors driving him to create the eco-friendly grocery service was his experience as a consumer. Especially because he lived in a high-rise apartment and didn’t own a car.

“One time I ran out of soap, so I ordered it, but it arrived in this massive box. It got me wondering why I had this huge box and a bunch of packaging in my apartment, all for a small bottle of hand soap that I’d eventually throw away just like the previous one,” said Torrey.

“Then I started thinking about all the other units in my apartment building and the units in surrounding buildings, and realized just how much unnecessary material is getting delivered and also going to waste. Why couldn’t my soap dispenser just be refilled with more soap, rather than replaced with an entirely new bottle?”

Torrey began working on the concept in early 2019 and he developed the idea with the graduate school at The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, where he was a student. In the first phase, he biked around Philly to test the service with just a few customers.
In 2020, Byungwoo “BK” Ko, one of his classmates at Wharton became a co-founder and they launched a larger-scale pilot that eventually became The Rounds.

Today, there are almost 1 million households using the service in and around Philadelphia, Washington DC, Miami, Florida, and Atlanta, Georgia, according to GoodGoodGood.

How does it work?
The Rounds works like other grocery delivery services with members paying a small monthly fee. You select what you need from a wide range of household and pantry basics and your order will be delivered weekly via a bicycle courier.

What makes The round different from the rest is that your order is delivered in refillable containers – return the empties when your next order is delivered – and everything comes in a reusable canvas tote bag. This is a closed loop sustainable system.

The Rounds also simplifies your shopping, reported The Miami New Times. Cleaning supplies come in unscented or lavender. Coffee has two choices, a dark roast and a light roast that come from a local roaster. Other products are also sourced locally.

“It's the reinvention of this classic model. It worked in the past and it will work in the future,” Torrey told The Miami New Times. "We just added technology to make things easier."

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