Dihan Chandra, Managing Director
What inspired you to start this business?
The Spent Goods Company was born out of the frustration of seeing so much waste.
As the impact of climate change and ocean plastic enters the mainstream, consumers are seeking alternative solutions – ban on disposable plastic bags, fossil fuel divestments, Paris climate accord are examples of influential solutions that are working to address this emerging demand.
Inspired by the determination of organizations like the Plastic Bank, non-profits in India who developed creative ways for rural schools to earn money while recycling plastics, to Mohammed Yunus, Elon Musk, we’re aspiring to be part of the solution by advocating for a greener economy.
However, gaining mass adoption to deal with climate change has proven difficult. Instead of only appealing to the greater good sentiment common to most climate change awareness campaigns, we’re emphasizing the appeal of transforming food waste into money.
Project Drawdown has ranked diversion of food waste that ends up in the landfill from high-income economies as a top 3 solution that could reduce 70 gigatons of CO2 by 2050. The good news is that 5 US states and Vancouver have started and Ontario is exploring food waste landfill diversion as part of their circular economy initiatives.
Some companies are already reusing their food waste and making money – for instance, MillerCoors produces inputs for high-fiber foods, vitamin supplements, pharmaceutical companies, all from their by-products.
Our mission is to participate in the transformation of lesser-known food waste into value. For instance, used coffee grinds are being transformed into clothing and brewer’s waste into bricks, animal feed, and mushroom spawn.
The Spent Goods Company will:
- Inspire social acceptance and network around reuse of food waste
- Strive for financial gains and greenhouse gas reduction
- Promote local adoption of circular economy solutions
Our theory of change is that individuals and businesses will explore these solutions due to financial gains reinforced by social benefits.
As a nature and animal lover, I’ve always been drawn towards sustainability given its fine balance between people, planet and profit.
The initial spark was exploring whether my dog’s pooh could be used to generate energy to power my house instead of having to pick it up. As it turns out, the answer is no — pooh doesn’t produce enough energy. But I became fascinated with finding value in what other people consider waste.
A short while later, I had the privilege of working on a funding application in Sri Lanka that was a response to a United Nations call for practical solutions to deal with plastic ocean pollution. The range of creative solutions that were proposed, including some that made revenue from plastic pollution, was truly inspiring. It cemented my belief that reasonable, practical solutions to reducing waste while generating profits are within our reach.
Then, one night at my local pub talking to the brewery manager, I asked the question we’ve all been too shy to ask: What happens to all the grain used to make beer?
After learning that most spent grain, especially from smaller breweries, ends up in landfills, The Spent Goods Company was born.
What is your background?
In 2006, I started my first social enterprise, Organic Lifestyle, an ecommerce site based on my interest in offering alternative solutions to everyday toxin exposure. It has been profitable for the past 7 years.
Prior to that, I spent 18 years working as an IT Solutions Architect at IBM, where I project-managed teams, created global offerings, managed C-suite stakeholders to achieve buy-in, and met deliverables within specific timeframes.
Meet the team
Justine Geroche – Sales
Marcella Tomas – Sales
Sydney Baker – Bookkeeping
Ai Morishita, Graphic Design
Miniature Massive – Brand Strategy
Natalia Pereira, Sustainability Consultant
Katrina McGuire, Researcher
Spent Goods Accomplishments
- Started to formalize ideas around Spent Goods
- Initiated conversations with Henderson’s Brewery based on their interest to transform their spent grains into value
- Accepted into CSI’s Climate Ventures accelerator
- Initated partnership with Drake Commissary (bakery) based on their interest to promote and use locally sourced grains
- Worked with Marc Van Beusekom, co-Founder of St John’s Bakery, to establish recipes and bread samples
- First media mention of the Beer Bread sour by BlogTO during first pop-up at Henderson’s Brewery.
- Initiated conversations with second bakery to make Toasted beer bread
- Sale of organic sourdough Beer Bread via CSI Cafe
- Submitted Walmart Food waste RFP proposing Bread -> Beer, partnering with Recycling Council of Ontario
- Participated in our first Farmer’s Market @ Junction!
- Initiated conversations with Building Roots
- First Sale of Toasted Beer bread via Moss Park Shipping Container Grocery Store
- Recipient of Carrot Cache grant which supports small projects in Ontario working toward a sustainable and just regional food system
- Bread->Beer and Beer Crisps launch – Sourdough IPA event
- Panelist at Zero Waste Conference, Toronto discussing Local Voluntary Approaches to Food Waste Reduction Panel
- Sale of organic sourdough Beer Bread via retail: Annex based Karma Coop
- Sale of organic sourdough Beer Bread via retail: Kensington based 4 Life Naturals
- Hired part time help to focus on business development
- Featured in NOW Magazine’s as food startup working on food waste
- Accepted into Ryerson Social Venture Zone
- Sale of organic sourdough Beer Bread via retail: Annex based Fiesta Farms. Read Fiesta Farm’s take on Spent Goods
- Established partnership with Feedback App to ensure no Spent Goods ends up as food waste! They offer consumers favourable pricing to reduce food waste
- Established partnership with Terus who provides consulting services to reduce waste and save money within the hospitality industry
- Ended retail relationship with 4Lifenaturals in Kensington Market
- Radio interview on CIUT FM by Green Majority to discuss policy solutions and cultural change. Featured along side climate innovators from Project Neutral, Climate Ventures, Point A, Feedback, The Spent Goods Company, Fresh Fashion Library, and Unwrapit.
- Won 2nd prize money as part of CSI’s Climate Venture pitch competition!
- Sale of organic sourdough, Butter Beer Crisps and Toasted Bread in Junction based grocer – Sweet Potato
- Sale of organic sourdough and Butter Beer Crisps to grocer and zerowaste advocate – Unboxed Market
- Featured in CBC Article: Can these 3 Canadian innovations help save the world? by Clifton Mark
- Sale of organic sourdough Beer Bread at The Big Carrot’s Danforth location
- Pop up markets at Wychwood Barns, WeWork (1 University) and Allied Properties (134 Peter Street)
- Started selling direct to consumers via Evergreen Brick works, lead by Justine
- Started working with Good Foot Delivery to help with just in time delivery and ability to help with packaging crisps
- Featured in a mini-documentary by For the Record Productions
- Featured on 8 minute segment on CBC Radio (french) – Spent Goods ou les multiples vies des déchets alimentaires industriels
Friends of The Spent Goods Company whose guidance and support we truly appreciate:
City of Toronto, Unit for Research, Innovation & a Circular Economy
Marc van Beusekom, co-Founder of St John’s Bakery
Centre for Social Innovation Climate Venture’s Accelerator