Food delivery is definitely part of our “new normal.” Over the past decade, we have seen a movement from eating in restaurants to ordering for delivery, and the pandemic has accelerated this further. 

But, as is always the case with big changes in the world, the shift in where we eat has led to unintended consequences. In this case, a big one: packaging. Food delivery has exacerbated the consumption of single-use plastics that bring convenience, safety, and hygiene benefits, but also cause massive amounts of pollution and greenhouse gas emissions. The question is: can we have these benefits while minimising negative impacts?

Meet InfinityBox, our circular-economy-focused TFF Challenge Finalist team from India. They’ve made it their mission to fight the mounting crisis caused by disposable, single-use packaging. They sustainably manufacture their own traceable, high-quality and resistant-to-leakage food containers, which are reused safely through their digital tracking platform and patent-pending smart bins. In its essence, InfinityBox is a logistics platform that specializes in hygiene management and enables the reuse of food containers up to 100 times.

Their innovative approach is gaining traction too – InfinityBox is already working with some of India’s biggest food delivery companies like Swiggy,  as well as with MealSmith, a partner of Hungerbox, which is India’s largest B2B aggregator.

All of this started when Shashwat Gangwal, Founder and CEO of InfinityBox, and Shubham Bansal were struck by the amount of plastic that came whenever they ordered food in university. Not only was it cluttering their kitchen, but it also was terrible for the planet. Together with Keshav Godala and Soham Chandorkar as Co-Founders, they decided to take action. Three years later, they have built their packaging and logistics solution, bolstered by a strong team and impactful partners – and they are going strong. Their solution solves a problem many of us have noticed and experienced, no matter where in the world we are.

So what makes InfinityBox different?

➡️ A platform that integrates into the food delivery ecosystem and doesn’t inconvenience anyone

InfinityBox’s container reuse systems is cost-effective, safe, and convenient. For a customer, it’s as easy as opting-in for using the InfinityBox system at the time of ordering from a platform they are already used to using. In fact, that’s what makes InfinityBox special. They have cracked the food delivery ecosystem and made it work financially!

➡️ Successful pilots that have led to partnerships

To identify deficiencies and capture market learnings, InfinityBox has to date conducted three pilots that have translated into partnerships, giving them a strong position in the market and enabling them to seamlessly integrate their operations into the existing food delivery ecosystem in India.

  • The first pilot ran on the campus of the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) in Kharagpur and was done with 2 restaurants, serving over 50 orders within a week.
  • Their second pilot was launched in the city of Gurgaon, Haryana – this time in partnership with 10 restaurants and reaching over 300 orders. The collection rate of food containers was ~90% and 20kg of plastic waste prevented from being dumped into landfills.
  • Their third pilot was with Swiggy, the largest food delivery platform in India, accountable for 1.5M orders daily pre-pandemic. With this partnership, they are experiencing an even higher collection rate.

These pilots tested the dynamics of the business and confirmed that a high collection rate of food containers was possible.

➡️ A great product and business model that targets consumers and businesses

InfinityBox is successful because their ingenious solution is underpinned by a focus on product quality. The team has designed their own food containers made out of polypropylene. These include not just boxes, but also plates and other types of containers that do not leak and keep food warm for approximately 30/40 minutes, which is the average food delivery time. Each food container also has a laser-printed QR-code making everything fully traceable.

If a customer opts-in for InfinityBox through a partner app, they will be able to choose and organize how to return the containers using four options:

  1. They can return immediately to the delivery person;
  2. They can schedule a pick-up time on the app;
  3. They can return the container at any time to a designated smart bin;
  4. Loyal consumers who order food often can also return the food container in the next order

Once food containers are collected, these are brought to the partner kitchens who follow a certified washing protocol to clean the containers to re-enter the cycle again.

InfinityBox has so far focused on the B2C market, but they are ready to crack the B2B segment too. In fact, they are now testing their InfinityBoxes in large offices.

For now, the team is focusing their efforts on the Indian market but hopefully, this is the beginning of a revolution in the take-away space where your delivery no longer has to be associated with large amounts of waste.

“We hope one day our friends and family members buy the InfinityBox. And why not? The Prime Minister of India Narendra Damodardas Modi has one too,” states Keshav.

What’s next?

InfinityBox is currently taking part in the TFF Academy, a three-month, personalized acceleration program that takes next-gen, agri-food-tech startups to the next level through hands-on mentorship and support in areas like pitching, storytelling, business model development, customer validation, and industry introductions.

TFF is supporting InfinityBox to live true to their circular economy ambitions by helping them to assess and measure positive impact at every stage of their process. We are also helping them to build partnerships for growth, and also address the specific needs of the Indian food delivery market.

“Our message to the UN Food Systems Summit is that we urgently need to move to a circular economy model that focuses on valuing our resources from production to end of life”, says Shashwat. “InfinityBox is going at this this now – and that’s worth something. We’re here to take action, not to sit on the sidelines.”

If you are curious about InfinityBox and their vision for a circular – not linear – future, check out their podcast series “Bending the Lines” – you may even hear from our Founder and CEO in one episode. Enjoy!

If you want to find out more about InfinityBox, partner with them, or meet the team, please reach out to marie@thoughtforfood.org.

Hear them pitch at the TFF Summit!

LIVE on October 2nd