How this got started
It was just a few short years ago that RainBarrel.ca was launched. However, this little Hamilton-based company continues to grow and is very active in hundreds of communities every spring. It began with a problem. Local manufacturers were generating large quantities of plastic 55-gallon drums that previously contained fruit, vegetables, beverage concentrates and other food grade ingredients. The empty drums could have been shredded, recycled and turned into new products, but that uses a great deal of energy and produces a minimal financial return to the recycler. RainBarrel.ca decided to repurpose the drums and turn them into functional and durable rain barrels. The mass production of the “greenest” rain barrels had begun, but how do you distribute tens of thousands of rain barrels each spring?
Rain barrels are bulky and expensive to ship in small quantities which explains why they sell for over $100 at retail outlets, but when shipped in truckload quantities, the transportation cost per barrel is reasonable. The final piece of the puzzle was to establish a distribution network where participants could handle a full truckload of rain barrels. Key factors to consider include having available space to receive and unload a full trailer and having communication channels within the community to share the bulk buy opportunity.
Owner Larry Pomerantz had years of experience operating and promoting special events as Chair and founding member of Earth Day HamiltonBurlington, a non-profit environmental awareness and tree-planting organization, which like most non-profits is always in need of fundraising dollars. Schools, churches, sport teams, service clubs, conservation authorities, neighbourhood associations and others have access to large parking lots, well developed communication networks, ongoing fundraising requirements and helpful volunteers. Partnerships have been developed with over 500 organizations; fundraising sales have netted $600,000.
To address the needs of distant communities, where large quantities are too expensive to ship, RainBarrel.ca designed a DIY (Do-It-Yourself) kit that permits homeowners to find a drum locally and turn it into a barrel. RainBarrel.ca also designed a newly manufactured rain barrel that is primarily distributed through municipal contracts.
How far can this grow? Juice concentrate drums will be heading to the Big Apple, New York City in truckload quantities this spring.