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Sponsored feature: presented by Social Ventures Zone at Ryerson University
The Social Ventures Zone at Ryerson University is home to unique entrepreneurial initiatives that are designed to make a positive impact in a variety of communities, both in Toronto and beyond. See all of our profiles here.
Who’s involved in this project?
Lucy Cullen (co-founder and CEO) and Eva Musso (co-founder and president).
What are your goals for this project?
Lucy Cullen: Terus is a Toronto-based social enterprise committed to reducing waste in restaurants. Our team of sustainability and hospitality professionals offers recommendations unique to each restaurant we work with to reduce waste and improve profitability. We aim to change the restaurant industry from wasteful to sustainable.
What is the biggest challenge you’re facing?
LC: Our biggest challenge is the assumption that being environmentally sound in the restaurant business is costly and inconvenient. We are changing this misconception and showing restaurants that there is in fact a strong business case for being sustainable. You can make more money while reducing your environmental footprint.
Can you explain the mentorship process available to you through the Ryerson Social Ventures Zone (SVZ)?
LC: The mentorship and support we’ve received from the Ryerson SVZ has been amazing. It has meant access to direct mentorship from experienced industry professionals, and workshops that tackle issues that are so relevant to start-ups, ranging from social media marketing to finances. It has given us a space to network with other like-minded ventures and be part of a growing community. We’ve made both friends and wonderful professional connections.
The Ryerson SVZ is all about leveraging innovation to make a social impact. How will your project affect the communities you’re targeting?
LC: On a large scale, Terus aims to address the huge issue of waste in Canada. Food waste, for example, is currently a $31 billion dollar problem in this country – that is the dollar amount of food wasted annually. Restaurants and hotels account for nine per cent of the food wasted in Canada so we are leveraging our wealth of experience in sustainability with our experience in the hospitality industry to minimize its waste footprint. We’re have already diverted over 60,000 pounds of waste from the landfill and have improved our clients’ bottom lines by over $27,000.
Have you been able to obtain any feedback from people who stand to benefit from your project? If so, what have they told you?
LC: Yes! Victor Barry, chef and owner of Café Cancan and Piano Piano, told us that we helped inspire “a never-before-seen awareness of waste within the staff culture.” And Adam Alguire, chef de cuisine at Café Cancan said it was “amazing how quickly Terus changed one of the most prevalent restaurant issues so effectively in our restaurant.”
What kind of public or private partnerships are you hoping to make (if any) to help grow your project?
LC: We are currently looking to make partnerships with chefs and restaurateurs committed to a sustainable future. We are also looking to make partnerships with innovative companies that are involved in waste diversion.
Imagine if you could scale up your project to its full potential. What would that look like?
LC: Our vision is a Toronto restaurant scene in which waste is consciously managed and waste prevention is prioritized over disposal. We would help restaurants of all scales and markets to realize both the financial and environmental benefit of implementing waste management staff training, innovative waste-saving technologies, correct disposal practices and more. It’s exciting!
Timing is a crucial factor that contributes to the success of a social venture. Why is now the right time for your project?
LC: The environment is increasingly at risk on a number of fronts. Waste is just one of the pressing environmental issues of our time and there has recently been a growing consciousness about food waste in Canada, especially through the innovative work that key chefs and restaurateurs have been bringing to the issue. Chefs like Suzanne Barr, Jagger Gordon, Charlotte Langley and Jamie Kennedy are bringing awareness to sustainability. This issue is also top of mind right now for both the provincial and the municipal governments, which means that restaurants may be forced to make changes to the way they manage food waste.
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