Start-up offers reusable, 100% recyclable bowls for takeout food

Working with restaurants, offices, and food delivery giant Wolt, OPA, launched in Tel Aviv less than a month ago, says it is amazed by demand

Sue Surkes is The Times of Israel's environment reporter

One of OPA's recyclable, multi-use bowls for order-in food. (Courtesy, OPA)
One of OPA's recyclable, multi-use bowls for order-in food. (Courtesy, OPA)

Green-minded residents of Tel Aviv who like to order takeout food can now have it delivered in reusable, returnable, 100 percent recyclable, bowls.

This follows the creation this year and launch a couple of weeks ago of OPA — a start-up that takes its name from a Hebrew expression similar to “wow.”

OPA was established by Ran Doron, now CEO, and Dar Hasson, COO, who both held senior positions at Wolt, a Finnish food delivery company with branches in many countries including Israel.

Doron said their work brought them face to face with the massive waste generated by single-use containers, some seven million of which are discarded in Tel Aviv alone, every month.

OPA is already working with 20 Wolt-registered restaurants in Tel Aviv, and will soon expand to the suburbs of Herzliya, Ramat Gan, and Givatayim.

It is already in talks with the other main delivery company operating in Israel, 10bis, and is working with four large companies, with dozens more asking to join, Doron said.

Among the inquiries are many from people wanting to know whether the bowls are kosher. Jewish law demands the separation of meat and dairy-based foods.

The company is now consulting with rabbis to ensure that the bowls and the way they are washed will allow them to be used in kosher establishments.

OPA offers two online applications — one for customers, and the other for restaurants.

For customers, who enjoy the service free of charge, the app generates an order code that is copied and pasted into the order comments section on the delivery company app.

An OPA vehicle transports bowls in Tel Aviv. (Courtesy, OPA)

The bowls — preferably rinsed — have to be returned within 10 days to special collection bins that OPA has had manufactured in Israel. Currently available at participating restaurants, these will soon be set up at selected stores and other locations as well.

Offices are equipped with their own collection bins.

OPA co-founder and CEO Ran Doron. (Courtesy, OPA)

OPA collects the used bowls and has them washed in industrial dishwashers before manually checking them for cleanliness and returning them to participating restaurants.

The company imports its current three versions of industrial-strength, microwave-safe bowls, and lids from the Dutch company Mepal. Bowls that have been used many times are sent back to Holland for recycling.

To expand its range of containers to suit specific dishes such as sushi, OPA is reviewing Israeli designs, intending to manufacture additional products locally and eventually create multi-use equivalents for all forms of disposable plasticware, including cups and cutlery.

With nine employees, OPA has plans not only to spread throughout Israel but also to take its products and tech overseas.

“The number of approaches from high-tech firms, restaurants, and individuals has amazed us,” Doron said. “It’s a new service and a new product. Usually, these things take more time but there’s such crazy demand. The app has already been downloaded thousands of times.”

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