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Created as an alternative to Amazon, this Philly startup is bringing zero-waste delivery to your door

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Note: This article is a paid placement and does not necessarily reflect the views or opinions of Billy Penn at WHYY.


In a world where you can choose from dozens of services to deliver a bag of snacks 15 minutes after your brain decides your stomach needs filling, The Rounds is a breath of fresh air.

Designed as a local, sustainable alternative to Amazon by Wharton grads Alexander Torrey and Byungwoo Ko, this delivery company was inspired by the classic “milkman” model. The Rounds delivers bulk essentials in refillable containers that are later picked up for reuse. The company mission is to provide all the convenience of ordering household items for delivery, while eliminating all the packaging waste.

The Rounds may not curb 2 a.m. cravings in record time, but it can ensure you’ll never be sadly disappointed when you reach for an empty coffee canister, the last TP roll, or the last diaper ever again.

Sustainable staples + local faves

Members of The Rounds can curate their customized delivery bundle from a selection of 100+ products — think of the daily basics you always need on hand, but often forget to grab at the store.

Things like household products such as toilet paper, laundry pods, and cleaners; personal care essentials like hand soap, toothpaste, and facial cleanser; or bulk pantry staples from soymilk to nuts, pasta, rice, oats, and olive oil. There’s even pet supplies and baby products.

Along with sustainable everyday staples, you can add local favorites to your order, like Bean2Bean Coffee, OT Foods Peanut Chocolate Chip Granola Bites, and Merzbacher’s Philly Muffins. And the list is always growing: you can now get loaves from Lost Bread Co., bagels from Philly Bagels, and oat milk draft lattes from La Colombe.

Even better — and unlike many delivery services — prices aren’t marked up. It’s actually the opposite: products will cost an average 30% less than city retail value, thanks to The Rounds’ bulk sourcing. The whole idea is to make sustainable living convenient and affordable for all.

Put it on autopilot

How does it work in practice? On their fleet of e-bikes, ‘Rounders’ will ride through each neighborhood in Philly on a weekly basis, dropping off curated orders to you and your neighbors.

You can customize the frequency and amount of each item in your bundle so it makes sense for your lifestyle and household — choose delivery weekly, biweekly, monthly, bimonthly, and from a variety of size options.

When your bundle is dropped off, Rounders will also pick up any empty containers from previous deliveries. The containers then get sanitized, refilled, and recirculated back out for new deliveries.

One of the best side effects: neighborhoods can see a genuine reduction in trash. Members of The Rounds are estimated to eliminate and average of 50 lbs. of package waste from their homes each year.

Stock up, from block to block

Since launching with service in Center City, The Rounds has expanded to surrounding neighborhoods. It’s available to residents from Fairmount to Fishtown, Graduate Hospital to Queen Village, and several zip codes in West Philadelphia. And Northwest is now in the picture, with a recent expansion of delivery service to Manayunk, Roxborough, Chestnut Hill, and Germantown.

Beyond Philadelphia, the fast-growing startup has expanded to DC and Miami, and is preparing for continued rapid growth in 2022, with new markets planned throughout the year.

Want to give zero-waste delivery a try? Membership costs $6 per month for weekly deliveries and container pick ups. There are no order minimums or delivery fees. You can also skip a refill or pause your service with no penalty by sending a simple text message.

Plus, there’s a free trial deal for Billy Penn readers: get your first month of deliveries free plus $25 toward your first order.

To claim this offer, get started here and enter code BILLYPENN. Creating your account is free, and your credit card won’t be charged until your first delivery is complete.

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