Each year, more than a third of food produced all around the world are thrown away, without being consumed. PHENIX, a startup created in 2014 by Jean Moreau and Baptiste Corval, fights against wastage by gathering unsold food from big food retail chains and giving them to charity. As part of the 3rd season of its startup accelerator UR Link, Unibail-Rodamco chose to work with PHENIX’s team to optimise waste management in its shopping centres.
For Unibail-Rodamco and PHENIX, the POC at Les Quatre Temps, aims at exploring how could the Group’s shopping centres become pioneers in terms of circular economy, with more integrated waste management processes. A mall such as Les Quatre Temps produces, all stakeholders combined, about 4,200 tons of waste a year, i.e. 12 tons a day. Following the model of its work with big chains, PHENIX would help Unibail-Rodamco reduce its waste volumes and implement proper recycling channels. Thus, for a few months already, the teams of the emblematic La Défense shopping centre have been offering a full-scale experimenting field to the startup.
“The POC is the opportunity to combine PHENIX’s expertise to Unibail-Rodamco’s ambition. We are exploring the implementation of a more systematic circular approach while generating more value, which would let us transform structurally the practices of our centres, both in contractual and operational terms.”
— Aude Kenny, Innovation Manager @ Unibail-Rodamco.
For Nicolas Piffeteau, Project Manager @ PHENIX, the collaboration with UR Link was a golden opportunity to test the implementation of circular economy channels in a world his team knew little about: shopping centres. “After four months of experimentation, we are proud of the innovative solutions we are now offering to co-develop with Unibail-Rodamco’s teams in order to transform the shopping centre into a pioneer centre in terms of waste management.”
In search for more sustainable consumption modes
The collaboration with PHENIX epitomises Unibail-Rodamco’s will to transform its centre in more environmentally friendly places, and thus, meet guests’ expectations. Just as Jean Moreau, the founder of the startup, explains on his LinkedIn: “End clients are now searching for more sustainable consumption modes.”
In this perspective, PHENIX helps Unibail-Rodamco to meet the goals set in the Group’s CSR strategy “Better Places 2030”, in particular its first pillar Better Buildings, imposing a reduction by 50% of the carbon footprint of the buildings of the company. The commitment affects the direct carbon impact of the Group – Unibail-Rodamco also engaged in DEMOCLES to improve its construction waste management – and its indirect impact, including the waste generated by the tenants of its centres (retailers, supermarkets, restaurants, etc).
The opportunity to save close to 50,000 meals a year
In concrete terms, what are the main paths explored by PHENIX to improve waste recycling in shopping centres? Each evening, unsold food could be given to charity or sold at low prices to visitors and staff of the shopping centre. Conceived with a short cycle approach, in time and space, the project could save the equivalent of 47,500 meals a year for a shopping centre such as Les Quatre Temps. Other recycling initiatives are explored and could affect different waste types: biowaste, cardboards and plastics, pallets, etc.
In order to provide a global vision of waste in shopping centres, PHENIX partnered with PickmyWastes, a startup specialised in construction waste recovery. Both startups offer to select and assess existing providers operating on working sites, based on reuse and traceability criteria, so as to foster source separation and waste recycling in environmentally-friendly channels.
“The programme provided us with a genuine toolbox to build our POC. The UR Link team challenged us through an accurate follow-up and regular milestones. We were guided to all the relevant Unibail-Rodamco departments to move our project forward in a short period of time. The UR Link programme helped us precisely understand how a shopping centre works in terms of waste management to determine the best waste reduction and recovery services we could offer them.”
— Vincent Bignalet, CEO & Co-Founder @ PickmyWastes
This article was initially published in French, in Maddyness on October 5th 2017.