The University said that new sustainable Otago student-led business ‘Spout Alternatives’ should tender for the University’s milk contract when the current supplier’s three-year contract ends.
Spout Alternatives founder Jo Mohan told Critic that cafes all over the country have got in touch with them since they launched their stainless steel milk kegs to reduce plastic waste in cafes.
The company’s goal is to remove plastic waste throughout the cafe supply chain. “People bringing their own cups is good,” said Jo, but more plastic waste is produced by milk bottles. Reusable kegs solve that problem.
A University spokeswoman said the idea was “interesting and innovative” and “we look forward to the business developing in the future”. She also said that the Uni “considers more than just price and delivery situations” in deciding milk contracts - “factors like sustainability will be considered,” and encouraged Spout Alternatives to tender for the University’s milk contract.
Jo said it was “really great to hear” that the Uni would consider pairing with them in future. “We are currently small, but hoping that in three years we would be fit to provide their milk supply.”
Jo has a Commerce degree from Otago and is working with first-year Otago student Luka Licul and Christchurch-based Nick Jackson.
The trio got “way more interest than we expected” after their launch was publicised in an ODT article, said Jo. “We’re now scrambling to meet demand; we love the support, it makes us move faster.”
Spout Alternatives are currently working with Holy Cow milk from Port Chalmers dairy farmer, Merrall MacNeille. Their 10-litre stainless steel kegs replace five two-litre plastic milk containers and are delivered to the cage and hooked up to Spout’s dispensing system.
The Corner Store is the first cafe on board and there are two more on the way, with more relationships being built after the publicity they’ve received, said Jo.
She said that students should 100% go for it if they want to start a sustainable business. “Anyone can do anything, especially with the opportunities and privileges students can access at university. Even just taking an hour out of your day to develop an idea.” She recommended business incubators like Audacious and Venture Up - both of which helped her build the connections required to start the business.
“There’s a great ecosystem of young entrepreneurs supporting in each in Dunedin.”