Currently, Candy Cutlery formulates and sells 100% biodegradable and edible gelato spoons and shot glasses of many different flavors. Everyone can enjoy them as a special treat after the food is finished or just leave them to break down naturally. Their functional innovation can not only greatly reduce the plastic waste dumped in landfills and ocean but also proves that it can be fun and easy to be environmentally-friendly when inspired to creativity by the people around us.
University of Guelph
Candy Cutlery is a sustainable and profitable business which creates edible utensils. In the online shop, we can find flavored spoons (cool mint, vanilla, strawberry, coffee) and shot glasses (lemon, strawberry, cool mint). People can either use them as a treat after finishing the food or they can just throw them out because all the products are 100% biodegradable.
The idea of edible utensils emerged one day as Lyn realized that “we waste so much on the little things we use every day.” Until now, the innovation has prevented more than 10,000 plastic spoons from going to landfills, ocean, and rivers in North America.
Candy Cutlery is led by three students: Lyn, Daniel, and Liyan. As the CEO (Chief Experience Officer) of Candy Cutlery, Lyn has had help from her two co-founders. Daniel is in charge of finance and is also responsible for the logistics management. Another key team player, Liyan, is a food science student at the University of Guelph with a background in marketing. Her field of study gives her the opportunity to create the formulation and flavors of all the products. With other supporting team members, Candy Cutlery is planning to launch more products in the future, such as stir sticks for coffee.
Candy Cutlery’s goal is to promote sustainability by reducing waste. They found out that it is not that people don’t care about the environment but that they don’t have enough resources to make the change happen. “There are three pillars of purpose for our organization: empower and educate customers with plastic alternatives, enhance eating experiences, and boost long-term environmental sustainability,” said Lyn. Candy Cutlery provides customers with the opportunity to “change the way we treat the world, one treat at a time”. The group is also doing their best to keep all the production process environment-friendly. “Our packing boxes are 100% recyclable and 20% biodegradable. We seek to partner with suppliers who share [a] similar goal and purpose with us, not necessarily the ones who make the cheapest offer,” said Lyn.
The idea was inspired by Lyn’s mother. One day, she washed the plastic spoons and the container of ice-cream for reuse. This made Lyn think that as people, we were generating plastic waste non-stop. And she began to wonder what she could do about it. She was brought up to be environmentally-conscious, and she learned to appreciate food production and Mother Nature. This motivated her to research online. Ever since, she has been passionate about the effect of plastic on the environment, living creatures, and water we drink. “The impact of plastic waste on the eco-system is like the butterfly effect,” said Lyn. Plastic utensils are small things we use almost every day and everywhere that end up with a negative impact on the vast majority of the population. “Think small to big” helped Lyn come up with the idea of innovating the way we eat and the concept of edible utensils.
Since the mass-production of plastic cutlery began in the 1950’s, human beings have never stopped accumulating plastic waste. The harm it has imposed on nature, global climate, ocean animals, and people’s health has unfortunately exceeded the benefits plastic once brought to us. Candy Cutlery fundamentally revolutionizes the way disposable utensils are produced and consumed. It’s an innovation that mixes sustainability very well with convenience and joy.
So far, the positive impact of the innovation on the environment has been growing. It’s estimated that 10,000 pieces of plastic have been replaced in the first few months of operations. By 2020, the goal is to alleviate the burden on the landfill and ocean by 1,000,000 pieces of plastic. As for the long-term effect, the team hopes to scale up the business and make their products more competitive and recognizable in the market. They expect to “incorporate the edible utensils into people’s lifestyle” during the cultural transition toward prioritizing sustainability over convenience.
This food innovation initiated by Candy Cutlery sheds light on food technology. It not only contributes towards sustainable consumption but also aims at “being more efficient at sustainability”, especially in terms of ingredient sourcing and seeking manufacturers and partners with similar beliefs and values. This profitable e-commerce company demonstrates the possibility that a business can do well and sustain itself by doing good to the society and the environment.
At Candy Cutlery, like-minded people work together closely, and talented females have a platform to thrive and shine. Apart from three co-founders, other multicultural university students are actively involved in the development of final products and the decision-making process. Two of the co-founders are women and half of the team consists of young women from minority backgrounds. Female leadership is not overlooked in this organization in that it promotes gender equality and personal growth. Lyn, whose parents are immigrants from China, said that by working on the innovation she was able to inspire her younger sister to “use her power for the good and be her own hero”. This start-up business led by hardworking and diligent university students proves that “entrepreneurship can change people’s lives.”
Candy Cutlery, as its name implies, is cutlery made from candy. The product is designed to function well as a regular utensil. This is a “key differentiator” from the marketing viewpoint. With the power of social media, this e-commerce business has a huge potential to reach and retain more customers. The profitable innovation is growing fast. In fact, five months before their business launched in July 2017, they had already received the first order from a law firm. This business is also becoming more mature. Although they started off by making and packing the products all by themselves, the team now co-operates with a local manufacturer for mass-production.
One benefit that Candy Cutlery has brought to society is that it encourages young people to express their ideas and stimulate positive changes for a brighter future by operating a business. The engagement of Lyn, Liyan, and other female team members also put the concept of 'girl power' into practice. Another societal benefit is that edible utensils give consumers a choice to carry out responsible consumption. With more people purchasing sustainable products, it can potentially change people’s overall consumption habits and eventually eradicate the use of plastic.
These biodegradable confectionery utensils leave as little trace as possible on the environment. They also reduce the risk of marine life being exposed to fatal plastic products.
Lyn Chen, Chief Experience Officer
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Toronto, ON, Canada
Business Website: https://www.candycutlery.com/
Year Founded: 2016
Number of Employees: 2-10