Hello Jean, we’re delighted to have the chance to talk with you. Can you tell us a little bit more about Phenix concept?
Phenix is a young, socially conscious company that provides citizens and companies with easy ways to take action and fight waste. Determined to build a waste-free world, we dream up solutions so that unsold food items never become waste, such as donations to non-profits, sales to consumers through our mobile app, reuse, animal feed, upcycling and more. The latest brainchild from Phenix is the app, which allows citizens to take concrete steps to fight waste by purchasing unsold food from neighbourhood shops at a discount price.
When did things start to clic
Along with my business partner Baptiste Corval, I became really interested in waste thanks to a report we saw on television. There’s really so much that can be done. Every year in France, ten million tons of consumable food is tossed out in the garbage: nearly a third of the food produced is binned without being eaten simply due to visual flaws or “best by” dates that are coming up fast. The stakes are enormous! This is why we started thinking about the Phenix concept. The aim is to reduce waste and give food products a second life. So, I left the Excel files and comfortable office at the bank where I was working to start up Phenix in 2014.
How about 3 key figures on Phenix?
3 figures we are proud of:
- 100,000 meals saved from the bin every day, thanks to our app and our partner non-profits
- 130 employees throughout France, to help our clients locally on the road to zero waste
- €9 million in sales in 2018, which goes to show that business and the common good can be compatible!
How do you help companies?
We help companies evolve towards zero waste through 3 solutions:
In terms of distribution, how many people are you working with now?
We are proud to be working with over 1,000 stores (major retailers, small local shops, industrial firms, etc.) and more than 60,000 citizens on our app.
Phenix has been exported to Belgium, Switzerland, Spain and Portugal. Is the USA next?
Who knows? For the time being we are focusing on Europe, but there’s a lot to be done on the other side of the Atlantic!
Was Phenix received the same way internationally? Any surprises along the way? Did you have to tailor your product to the local markets?
Yes, we have to tailor our product to the market we are breaking into. However, we got international support from some of the retailers we already worked with in France, which enabled us to better assess customer needs in the various countries we operate in.
Where is the consumer in all this?
Consumers have a huge role to play in fighting waste. Consumers alone are responsible for 40% of the waste in western countries. We need to become aware of this, but awareness is not enough. So, we are calling on socially responsible citizens to take action as builders of a waste-free world. An easy way to start? Our app, of course! It gives everyone the means to fight waste right in their own neighbourhood while saving money.
Fighting waste has become something of a fashion: how can you get involved without greenwashing? What’s the right way to communicate? Do you even have to communicate?
It is important to communicate about actions to fight waste in order to give the movement momentum. However, all communication must be measured and thought through: today, consumers can check anything and call it into question. Communicating based on sales figures and concrete results is thus the best solution.
France is a leader in legislation to fight waste. What changes have you seen one year in? How do you see the anti-waste movement being taken into account by governments internationally?
In 2016, France enacted a law prohibiting supermarkets from destroying unsold food items. This made it a leader in the fight against waste internationally, where no other similar legislation existed. As a French company, we are proud of this law, which has helped to raise awareness thanks to strong media coverage. This law must now be extended to other sectors where waste is rampant, such as foodservice establishments, food and drinks manufacturers, wholesalers and farmers.
What is the latest #TechForGood innovation that inspires you?
|I’m a big fan of Yuka, which gives consumers the power to know more about the products they buy and to eat better. It is also an excellent example of a service that brings together the digital transition and the ecological transition, which are tightly linked.|
How do you see the future of Phenix?
Phenix’s future will be driven by the movement of socially responsible citizens fighting for better consumer habits. They are the ones who, through their choices and consumer practices, will shape the world of tomorrow. This is why we created our anti-waste app for the general public, as we wanted to give everyone the means to easily and inexpensively fight waste.
What are 5 easy tips to fight waste?
- Understand expiry dates: do not mix up “use by” dates and “best before” dates. While eating products (such as eggs, meat, fresh products, etc.) after the “use by” is not advised, you can eat a product whose “best before” date has expired (for example pasta, cookies, drinks, spreads, etc) with no worries. Don’t hesitate to smell a food item to check if it is still good after its “best before” date has gone by.
- Get help from technology: thanks to apps, fighting waste is just a click away! You can easily sell an item you no longer use or buy unsold food at a discount from your neighborhood shops!