Created in 2013, Comerso has historically specialized in the recovery of unsold food with associations.
The share of non-food, especially textiles, has become increasingly important in recent years.
This should double in 2022 thanks to the entry into force of the Agec law on January 1, which now prohibits the destruction or disposal of unsold non-food items.
Historically specialized in the management of unsold food from supermarkets, the Bordeaux start-up Comerso is opening up more and more to the non-food sector. “It's a share that has been growing steadily for two or three years, and which now accounts for 15% of our activity,” explains François Vallée, marketing director of the company, which now employs 40 people.
This share could double in 2022 to rise to 30%, thanks to the entry into force since January 1 of the Anti-waste law for a circular economy (Agec).
This now prohibits most companies from destroying or throwing away their stocks of new non-food unsold items, such as textiles, hygiene and childcare products.
"They must therefore set up partnerships with associations to promote these unsold items", continues François Vallée.
And this is precisely where Comerso comes in.
Because, while some companies anticipated the law, “many are waking up today and trying to find solutions to comply.
Digital developer and logistician
A company with a mission, status granted to companies with a social and environmental impact, Comerso connects major brands and associations for the recovery of unsold products. “We have two ways of operating, explains François Vallée. Either we collect the goods directly from the store - this is what we do at Decathlon via a digital box that each store uses when it wants to trigger a collection - or we collect from the warehouses, there the volumes are much larger sometimes with several hundred pallets to manage. »
Secondly, the start-up, which presents itself as both a digital developer and a logistician, identifies the interested associations.
“We then distribute the volumes between them, according to their needs.
The nonsense would be to give these products to an association that would not be able to redistribute them, which would be equivalent to shifting the problem of waste.
Redistribution is made for the benefit of the Agency for Gifts in Kind (ADN) and Solidarity Donations, as well as a multitude of local associations such as recycling centers.
Ademe has estimated the amount of unsold non-food items that would be destroyed or thrown away each year at around 300 million euros.
"Still huge progress to be made in food"
All sectors combined (food included), Comerso collected the equivalent of 45 million euros in goods in 2021, an amount up 25% in one year. “We are going to continue this growth in 2022, in particular thanks to non-food, but there is still enormous progress to be made in food” insists François Vallée.
Comerso was created in 2013 by a former Danone employee, "who realized that if stores were throwing away a lot of goods, it was because they didn't really have any solutions to avoid this waste", summarizes François Valley.
“Our main channel is donations to associations, which represents 80% of our activity, within a network of approximately 2,000 partner associations.
The remaining 20% are resold in anti-waste zones within the stores themselves, with discounts of -30% to -40% on products.
For companies, it is also a question of brand image
Gaspi hunting is not just the prerogative of Comerso.
Some brands have developed their own collection or resale circuit, while the phenomenon of consumer baskets has literally exploded since 2016 and the Garot law on the prohibition of destroying food products, on the model of To Good To Go type apps or Phénix which offer packages of unsold products.
Although based on a virtuous model, Comerso still has economic constraints, and invoices its service to its 1,400 customers, made up of large brands and SMEs.
Companies benefit from tax exemption, up to 60% of the amount of their donation to associations.
“This advantage is a real driving force to bring them in this direction, perhaps even more than the law itself, analyzes François Vallée.
In any case, we have observed a real change in mentalities in recent years in the food sector, which also comes from the pressure of public opinion, consumers no longer wanting to hear about waste within companies.
These are in step, it's a question of brand image.
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