We learned a ton about CERO and its founders today!From what we had heard during our previous classes, we imagined that the focus of our work might be on increasing sales. After the meeting today we realized just how complicated this is, and might continue to be in the near future. While Massachusetts has passed legislation that requires businesses that produce over 1 ton of organic waste a week to compost, there is no enforcement of this law. Cero’s pitch to customers focuses on two main ideas: lowering waste disposal costs and providing an easy service to help customers abide by the legislation. Yet since the legislation ‘has no teeth’, most of Cero’s customers sign up either to save money or to do the right thing by supporting a business with cooperative values that protects the environment.
A large proportion of CERO’s customers tend to already be sold on the value of composting. One of the big challenges to growth that Cero’s founders see is the lack of education around environmental justice issues, especially in low income communities of color. In order for businesses to see the value of what Cero offers, there needs to be much more community awareness especially in the local business. Business sometimes are skeptical of what is it that CERO stand for, but once they buy into the product they tend to understand. The challenge is is in getting those who do not understand or even care about these issues onboard. One key idea that was brought up is that no matter how great our cooperatives values are, people on the outside is still going to see CERO as a business and will operate on business terms with them.
To combat this, Lor is interested in working with local schools to start education about composting from a young age, and the new sales team is working to produce a video and other communications tools to get the word out in order to gain some more traction. The team sees this as a long term ongoing challenge, possibly something we can help with. Moving forward, our team from the co-design workshop will be looking into ways to help CERO create more channels of marketing as well as sales.
You can learn more about CERO here: http://www.cero.coop/