Pyxo, a Paris, France-based startup, is taking sustainable food packaging to the next level by creating a network devoted to reusable food containers. Founded in 2018, the French startup was created with the fundamental idea that ecology should not be seen as a constraint, but rather an advantage. Pyxo is hoping to offer a service that makes it easy and cost-efficient to use reusable food containers at scale.
The idea for Pyxo came about after the company’s co-founder and CEO, Benjamin Peri, witnessed garbage cans overflowing with soda cans, clamshell containers and single-use food packaging next to food stands at a Paris fair. Since then, the company’s aim has been to change consumption for a sustainable future.
Much like many food startups, Pyxo’s business path has not been linear thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic. At first, it joined forces with French corporate catering service company Sodexo to replace plastic cups and make all packaging reusable. However, once most companies made the switch to remote work, Pyxo began looking for other clients.
It started working with various food tech companies, such as Foodles and Popchef, that offer connected fridges with packaged lunches and snacks. But Pyxo is likely to gain many more clients thanks to regulatory changes coming soon. Last year, the French government passed an anti-waste law stating that restaurants would have to switch to reusable packaging by January 2023.
To help restaurants and foodservice companies make the sustainable switch, the startup created a network for reusable food packaging that connects every company in the industry. Here’s how it works: a restaurant can purchase a batch of containers, called PyxoBoxes — equipped with QR codes or near-field communication (NFC) chips — and outsource cleaning to specialized companies that can supply them with a clean batch when they pick up used containers at the end of the day. PyxoBoxes are made in France, are oil- and BPA-free, have a ten-year dishwasher warranty and are recyclable at the end of their life.
On the consumer side, they can also order takeout, bring it home in a PyxoBox and use an app to find the nearest collection point, which doesn’t have to be the restaurant where the food was originally purchased. To incentivize returns, Pyxo is considering small deposits and gamification (an online marketing technique to encourage engagement).
The startup plans to be part of what it believes will be a dense network of restaurants, collection points and cleaning centers. With more than 2,000 points of sale in the restaurant industry already trusting Pyxo for its reusable packaging solutions, the company is hopeful fast-food chains could boost clientele further since each chain has numerous locations around the country.
Last week, the startup secured $7.9 million (€7 million) in funding from a seed round led by Five Seasons Ventures and Eurazeo. The company plans to use the funds to hire 70 more employees and further prepare for France’s anti-waste law to come into effect. For now, Pyxo is ensuring its ecological solutions are used for its clients’ ease and practicality.