Businesses Without Borders: FoodWare’s Mission to Make Takeout More Sustainable

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Photo Credit: Romina Silva

Neither Ignas Bolsakovas nor Romina Silva, co-founders of the cutting-edge FoodWare app, were originally from the United States. However, it is here, in the Bay Area, where they have joined forces to eliminate plastic waste. In 2021, they launched FoodWare, a takeout system that replaces single-use take-out containers with reusable containers. 

Born in Lithuania, Bolsakovas was initially a software engineer. He moved to the U.K. to study computer science and mathematics at the age of 18, and, after earning his degrees, worked at a climate space startup for a couple years. In 2017, while in his final two years of university, Bolsakovas decided to travel to San Francisco, which is where he met his future co-founder, Silva. “My goal since then was to move to Silicon Valley and to build my business here,” he said.

Silva was born in Cancun, Mexico and moved to the U.S. when she was 12 years old. While studying chemical engineering at UC Berkeley during the pandemic, Silva started learning more about the plastics pollution problem. During the pandemic, takeout and delivery orders drastically increased since most people were sheltering-in-place. Since she worked as a restaurant manager, Silva saw how much food packaging waste was being generated. “Customers would come up to me and tell me how guilty they felt  about all the waste that came with single-use foodware,” Silva said. 

Around the same time, Bolsakovas decided to sell his climate space startup. “I wanted another challenge and wanted to build something from scratch again,” said Bolsakovas. So, in 2020, he set off to build his entrepreneurial career in the U.S. 

From there, the pair set out to create a system that would reduce plastics pollution in a way that was accessible to everyone. 

The two created a simple and free program for customers to order takeout in reusable containers at their favorite restaurants. Customers can ask partnering restaurants for reusable FoodWare containers and, when they’re done with their food, can return the containers to any participating restaurant by scanning a QR code with the FoodWare app. Each time a customer borrows through FoodWare, the app will report to customers how many pounds of carbon dioxide emissions have been avoided. 

Recently, the app also launched its rewards program with five sustainable businesses: Fillgood, Greater Than, Re-Up Refills, Blue Heron Botanicals, and Sustainabar.  “We partnered with them to provide discounts for people that participate in the FoodWare app,” Bolsakovas said. After using the FoodWare app, users can then redeem online and in-store discounts up to 15%. 

In 2021, FoodWare was accepted into the Berkeley Skydeck Accelerator, an investment program for startups. Their investment was not just an opportunity for FoodWare, but also an opportunity for Bolsakovas to realize his dream of succeeding in Silicon Valley. 

Because of the success of his business, Bolsakovas was able to obtain the U.S. Distinguished Persons Visa. This allowed him to continue working on expanding FoodWare in the US

One of Bolaskovas and Silva’s main goals is to make the app available to everyone.  “We don’t want our product to come at a cost to the consumer,” Bolsakovas said. The FoodWare app is free and customers are not charged any fees to borrow the containers. Silva shared, “Living sustainably is often seen as a luxury, so we wanted to make sure that using FoodWare wouldn’t be an additional burden for anyone in the community.” 

FoodWare containers are offered at several locations in Burlingame—including Coconut BayBroadway Grill, and Ramen Sky—and in both Pinole and Berkeley.

Eileen is a junior in her second year of journalism. She enjoys covering local businesses in the community and environmental issues. In her free time, she enjoys photography and painting.

1 Comment

  1. I think it’s a really great idea! Firstly, it’s environmentally cool, because ecology is really important nowadays. Ecology suffers, and we must start doing something with that. And the more such projects, the better, because look at what is happening now. I’ve heard about many environmental projects, but this is something new, and it sounds cool. I like this, it’s very sweet and beautiful. It would be cool if this things expanded across the country and more restaurants used this program. It is so nice that people engage in such things and now I also want to take part in this!

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