GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — Who Likes doing bottle and can returns at the local grocery store?
Very few, if any.
It's annoying; it's messy and often times, it stinks.
Thanks to a pair of Michigan entrepreneurs, there's a way it can be done for you, thanks to an app they created, that removes your stockpile of returnables and immediately puts money in your pocket.
About ten years ago, West Michigan entrepreneurs Bryan Stratton and Jason Hornor say they thought about starting a business that would focus on picking up and returning people's piles of returnable bottle and cans, but the timing was never right.
When COVID-19 arrived in Michigan this spring, the duo decided to revisit their idea and make it reality.
"Every year, there's up to 400 million dollars in deposit value in returnable bottles and cans in Michigan," said Bryan Stratton, who is the co-founder of the business venture. "A few years ago, we started seeing new technologies come out like Uber, Lyft and Shipt, offering these gig-economy-type platforms where you can actually scale-up and offer s service like this."
Stratton, along with business partner, recently launched 'Sipzee.com,' which they hope will become a solution for people who simply don't want to return their bags full of returnable bottles and cans.
"Sipzee.com connects people who want their cans and bottles recycled with people who are willing to do it, with a technology platform in the middle helping facilitate it," said Stratton.
Stratton and Hornor created a web app where people can create a profile and schedule a pick-up of their returnables.
"Go to the app on your computer or mobile device, load in your zip code, and get started," said Stratton. "After finishing a few more steps, submit your pickup request."
Stratton and Hornor say since going live with Sipzee.com in early November, they have built a stable of 32 'Returners' who choose to do pickups where they want, when they want.
"Once you submit your pickup request, a Returner will claim your order," said Stratton. "You'll get the Returner's name and photo, as well as the day and time when they can make a contactless visit to your home to get the cans.
"Within minutes after pickup, you'll be sent a digital check for your cans and bottle."
The payment structure for Sipzee.com is:
* For every 10 cent bottle or can you have, you get 5 cents back.
* Your Returner gets 4 cents.
* 1 cent goes to the fee for the technology that's used to support the app.
Stratton says they've also created a way where people can choose to have the money generated from their returnables go to charity.
"Through the signup process, you can choose to donate proceeds to a local business that might be struggling due to COVID-19, or to a non-profit organization or to fundraisers in your community who have signed up with our site," added Stratton. "If there are any entities who are interested in signing up to be able to receive donations from Sipzee customers, we ask that they please contact Sipzee through our website."
Stratton says Sipzee.com has been working mostly in the Caledonia and Rockford areas since its launch, but hopes to gain customers throughout West Michigan, and ultimately expand the reach statewide.
"We're working on perfecting the business model in the Grand Rapids market and then start working on getting Returners in the Detroit area," said Stratton. "Returners must be 16 years old or older."
If you're interested in learning more, scheduling a pickup, or becoming a Returner, click HERE and sign up.
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