30 Under 30: Anastasia Kiku is containing food waste with Vancouver-based Reusables

Vancouver eateries like Earls and Jamjar have embraced zero-waste options by using Reusables.

Anastasia Kiku, 24

Co-founder and chief operating officer, Reusables

Life Story: At the age of 18, former professional ski racer Anasta- sia Kiku left her home in Russia for a life in Canada. “Up until that moment, I was racing 200 days out of the year,” Kiku says. “I wanted to explore what else there was to life.”

She enrolled at UBC Sauder School of Business in Vancouver, where she studied operations and logistics. When she spent a semester abroad in Copenhagen, she became interested in sustainability—a concept that she says doesn’t exist in the Russian language.

Kiku returned to Vancouver inspired and landed an internship with Burnaby-based online grocery management system provider FoodX, where she focused on integrating a circular-economy model into the company’s operations and logistics.

When Kiku’s internship ended, her former manager approached her with the idea of introducing a circular economy to the restaurant industry. Together, they founded Reusables, a company that helps food businesses implement zero-waste packaging. It tracks its packaging across a network of restaurants and stores, measuring the impact of CO2e emissions avoidance and plastic waste reduction. “I think waste in the modern system is just an inefficiency,” says Kiku. “There is no reason why we need to create waste if we produce something mind- fully and develop the right systems.”

Now, well-known Vancouver eateries like Earls, JJ Bean and Jamjar as well as grocers Fresh St. Market and IGA have embraced zero-waste options by using Reusables. Kiku’s ultimate goal is for the company’s packaging to be adopted by more than 5,000 retailers across North America.

Bottom Line: Since its launch in 2021, Reusables has diverted over five tonnes of waste, avoided over 20 tonnes of CO2e emissions and empowered more than 5,000 people to reuse 150,000 takeout containers. The team, now consisting of four full-time employees and five contractors, has raised over $1.5 million in funding and generated $250,000 in revenue to date.