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First zero-packaging supermarket

Shoppers use their own containers for their groceries at a Zero Waste Market pop-up shop event. The startup is set to open a permanent location this year in Vancouver, BC, Canada. | Image credit: Zero Waste Market

Recovery Toolkit, Zero-Waste Grocers Aim to Fight Food Packaging Waste

Following the success of grocery stores such as in.gredients in Austin, TX, and day by day in locations across France, other shops focused on eliminating packaging waste from their shelves have been popping up around the world. Opening this year: new locations in Copenhagen, Vancouver, and Brooklyn.

Inspired by Berlin, Germany’s Original Unverpackt, Frédéric Hamburger and Constance Leth are opening Scandinavia’s first zero-packaging supermarket, LØS Market, this summer. The shop will sell over 400 organic products and source from local producers “as much as possible.” Customers will be encouraged to bring their own containers, but will also have the option to use store-provided compostable paper bags and empty bottles for liquids such as wine, oil and soap. The bottles can be returned to the store for washing and reuse.

Similarly, Zero Waste Market will be Canada’s first zero-packaging supermarket, and is set to open a permanent location in Vancouver, BC by the end of this year. Its Founder, Brianne Miller, is a marine biologist who saw habitat degradation firsthand in her work, and wanted to do something to help.

“I started to realize that many of the species that i was studying were impacted by marine pollution as a result of climate change and a lot of products that were ending up in the water,” Miller told CBC Radio. “[We are] working on plastic pollution by encouraging people to shop without plastic packaging and working with our suppliers to reduce food waste as well before products even arrive to us in the store.”

Miller has been testing her ideas with monthly pop-up shops since last fall, selling dried goods such as nuts, seeds and grains, as well as fresh fruit and vegetables. The permanent location will offer a wider range of products, including soap and conditioner. The products are mostly local and organically grown.

Eco-conscious consumers in Brooklyn will soon be able to bring their own containers to The Fillery, a grocery store which will have dispensers for its products, to be purchased by weight. The shop was successfully funded through a Kickstarter campaign, which closed on April 1; 388 backers pledged US $17,075 to bring the project to life. Fillery founder Sarah Metz reports that she is currently negotiating a lease for a location.

“I’ve been an advocate for eco-conscious living for as long as I can remember. In recent years, I’ve become more and more concerned about the amount of waste we generate as humans and the role consumerism plays. On a more personal and local level, I’m frustrated by the grocery options in my community,” Metz told PSFK. “I’ve always dreamed of living near a store like The Fillery and wondered why one didn’t exist here.

“I’ve gotten a lot of fantastic feedback from the community. My hope is that it will appeal to a variety of people, whether they enjoy cooking and want to try unique ingredients, are moving toward a zero waste or more sustainable lifestyle and want package free options, or are looking to save a little bit of money on pantry staples. I also have plans for a variety of workshops, so I hope The Fillery will become somewhat of a community gathering place,” Metz added.

Meanwhile, the Foodservice Packaging Institute (FPI) has launched a Foodservice Packaging Recovery Toolkit, a collection of free resources for foodservice operators, communities, material recovery facilities, and end markets. An additional section for operators of composting and anaerobic digestion facilities is currently under development.

“Recovering cups, containers, boxes, bags and other foodservice packaging is a topic of intense interest not only for consumers but also for the foodservice packaging supply chain and those in the recycling and composting industries,” said Lynn M. Dyer, president of the FPI. “We’ve created this toolkit to respond to the questions and needs of many different stakeholders involved in the recovery process.”

The toolkit offers step-by-step guidance for implementing an in-store recycling and/or composting program, maps out potential end markets for recycled material, and shares relevant research and case studies of successful foodservice packaging recovery. Its resources include free downloadable and customizable forms and templates, educational videos and a first-of-its-kind map highlighting recycling and composting policies that may impact foodservice operators in the U.S. and Canada.

Two years ago, a group of industry organizations released a similar toolkit focused on helping manufacturers, retailers and foodservice operators reduce the amount of food waste sent to landfill, and the SB Innovation Open-winning app FoodLoop was launched to help retailers promote “best before date” on-sale items and help shoppers find deals.

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