Back in the day, milk was delivered to people’s doorsteps in glass bottles every morning. The next day, the milkman would pick up the empties to be cleaned and refilled. It’s a simple concept that’s gotten lost in our supermarket, single-use plastic world.

The Rounds, a zero-waste refill and delivery service, has brought the milkman concept into the 21st century. Co-founders Alexander Torrey and Byungwoo Ko began their startup in 2019 with the belief that convenience can be sustainable, and sustainability can be convenient.

The Rounds founders, Alexander Torrey and Byungwoo Ko. (Photos courtesy of The Rounds).

General Manager Edward Sun explained that The Rounds was inspired by an Amazon delivery of hand soap.

“It arrived in a cardboard box the size of a kitchen table to replace a perfectly good bottle which had nothing wrong with it besides being empty,” Sun said. “It hit him that everyone else in his apartment building was doing the same exact thing, and it got him thinking, ‘there must be a better way.’”

Torrey started toying around the idea for The Rounds while he was an Entrepreneur in Residence at startup accelerator Techstars at  Ponce City Market, according to Sun. The company was formally started in Philadelphia while Torrey was attending Wharton’s MBA program.

The way The Rounds works is simple. Members shop online from 120+ products on the website. The Rounds team, on e-bikes, deliver the products, in reusable containers and canvas bags, during their weekly rounds. And they pick up the empties.

Members only pay for their products, with cost savings up to 40% thanks to group buying, and a monthly fee of $5.95.

The Rounds is booming in Philadelphia, Washington, DC, and Miami. Now it has reached Atlanta.

Torrey said that Atlanta had a record launch. “Atlanta has really shown us it is ready for The Rounds. Sustainable convenience really matters for people here,” he said. “We are currently operating our e-bikes in a relatively small area that spans from Grant Park north to Peachtree Road up in Buckhead and east to around Candler Park.”

Sun noted that The Rounds is working quickly to cover more ground and reach more Atlantans. “We will be opening large parts of Decatur and East Atlanta in early July, as well as West Midtown, and continuing to grow from there,” Sun said.

“We’re also excited about all the interest we’ve heard from OTP [outside the Perimeter] and are working hard to get out to our future members as quickly as possible,” he added.

Visit therounds.co for more info on membership and products. You can also get on the waitlist to stay informed once it launches in your neighborhood.

Kathy Dean

Kathy Dean is a freelance writer and editor based in metro Atlanta.