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HomeAsiaMuuse aims to phase out single-use containers in Singapore’s flourishing F&B industry

Muuse aims to phase out single-use containers in Singapore’s flourishing F&B industry

In November 2022, Singapore-based Muuse launched a partnership with Hawker Centre @ Our Tampines Hub, a facility managed by FairPrice Group’s Kopitiam, to provide a closed-loop reusable container system to reduce single-use waste from landfills.

The container rental system has enabled the shift from disposable takeaway packaging for eight hawker stalls that the startup is working with. According to Muuse, over the period of the pilot project, 608 unique users borrowed 9,608 reusable containers, diverting single-use packaging from waste, which otherwise would have ended up in landfill.

“Over the past five years, our commitment to promoting reuse in Singapore has always included the vision of extending this service to hawker centres. These centres hold immense cultural significance, woven into the daily lives of many Singaporeans. If we are serious about addressing the problem of single-use waste, it is imperative to offer reusable packaging solutions in these essential contexts,” says Muuse CEO Jonathan Tostevin in an email interview with e27.

The system works by allowing consumers to borrow reusable containers for free. Each reusable container is tagged with a unique serialised QR code, which customers scan to borrow using the Muuse app.

Customers had 30 days to return their reusable containers to return points in the hawker centre for cleaning and sanitisation. The system also includes specialised return points for halal reusable containers.

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According to the company, its tracking system shows that 99 per cent of containers were returned throughout the pilot programme. It offers a range of product solutions, including consumer-facing apps (web and mobile), integration with vending machines, third-party apps, and POS systems, enhancing convenience and engaging users in the reuse experience.

In running this project, Muuse receives support from The SG Eco Fund. It expects to launch a full commercial partnership at another hawker centre in 2024 to help Singapore hit its Green Plan target of reducing the amount of waste to landfills per capita per day by 30 per cent by 2030.

Encouraging reusability

Tostevin says that the practice of reusable packaging in the F&B industry is still in its early phases, with ongoing efforts to enhance the overall service experience, especially regarding the convenience of purchase and return.

The team finds that a lean and agile approach is crucial in the product development process of solutions such as Muuse, allowing them to experiment rapidly in real-world business scenarios.

“At Muuse, our approach to product development is deeply rooted in customer centricity. Our team is dedicated to identifying users’ needs, expectations, and pain points in the reuse service experience. Regular user feedback and proactive engagement on the ground play a pivotal role in continually refining and enhancing our service offerings. For instance, at the hawker centre project in Our Tampines Hub, Muuse conducted multiple rounds of surveys and customer interviews with end-users and hawkers to understand their expectations, contributing to the identification of a more convenient and scalable model for reuse at hawker centres in Singapore,” he says.

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“The Muuse platform focuses on addressing two primary requirements in the reuse space – achieving traceability of packaging in circulation and retaining/growing consumer participation.”

When asked about the platform’s user acquisition strategy, Tostevin says that numerous F&B businesses have approached them to seek sustainable alternatives.

“Many have already begun transitioning from single-use plastics to more expensive disposable options and are now subsequently exploring the possibility of incorporating reuse into their operations. Many of our clients have internal or externally set waste reduction targets, with packaging constituting a significant portion of their waste stream,” he says.

“However, we understand that the shift from disposables to reusable packaging entails more than a straightforward replacement—it requires adjustments to operational processes, staff training, and effective consumer communication. To address this, we aim to simplify the transition by optimising the user and vendor experience, ensuring it is straightforward and convenient. Our pricing is competitive with single-use packaging, and we strive to provide reusable solutions that benefit both consumers and vendors, such as stackable containers.”

Eradicating single-use waste

The journey of Muuse began as an idea by a group of eco-conscious surfers visiting Bali and seeing everyday trash in the seas, which made them question how the items ended up there.

“We have been privately funded thus far and have sufficient resources to sustain our operations until the end of 2024. Throughout 2024, we are focused on hitting our targets of US$1 million in revenue (3x in 2023) and to break even by the end of the year,” Tostevin says.

“We aim to seek external funding in 2024 to help us scale and hit our targets across the America and Asia regions.”

In its mission to eradicate single-use waste, Muuse wants to extend its smart IoT packaging throughout the F&B sector and beyond while developing both its digital and physical infrastructure on a city-wide scale.

“Our ongoing initiative includes introducing Muuse containers to another hawker centre next year, with plans for further expansion. We are dedicated to broadening partnerships, collaborating with brands such as Starbucks and PepsiCo, increasing revenue and clientele across all our markets, and continually enhancing the convenience and effectiveness of our service for both consumers and vendors. By the end of next year, we aim to have diverted one million single-use items from landfills.”

Image Credit: Muuse

The post Muuse wants to eliminate single-use containers in Singapore’s thriving F&B scene appeared first on e27.


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