Could Zero Waste Stores be a Growing Threat to Packaging?
A few years ago, we posted a link to an article about a Berlin-based grocery store, Original Unverpackt, that opened boasting its products would be sold without packaging. Customers fill containers that they bring from home with dry goods stored in dispensers. Liquid goods are purchased in jars and bottles that require a deposit. The store has seen success in the first few years of its existence and has since opened an online shop and just this year launched a magazine that highlights sustainability issues. Now, stores like this are popping up around North America.
Nu Grocery will celebrate its grand opening on Aug. 19 in Ottawa, Ontario, and will follow similar guidelines to that of Original Unverpackt. After a soft opening this past weekend, Metro News reports that founder Valerie Leloup was surprised to see how many customers came prepared with containers when the doors to the store opened. Leloup explained to Metro News that the idea behind the store was spurred because she wanted to give people a store where they could purchase groceries without packaging.
However, this isn't the first store in North America to do away with packaging. In 2016, a similar concept called Green Zero Waste Grocery opened in Salt Lake Island, British Columbia, Metro News reports, as well as a Zero Waste Market in Vancouver. But it's not just Canada that's jumping on this new trend. Zero-waste grocery stores have started popping up in New York and Colorado, in fact, there's a blog that lists places where people can partake in "litterless" shopping throughout the U.S.
So, what does this mean for the packaging industry? It's evident that there is a growing faction of consumers who are concerned with the amount of packaging used for products, opting to shop at farmers markets or one of the aforementioned zero-waste stores. Efforts to reduce excessive packaging and increase recyclability and compostability may become necessary to compete with zero-waste stores.
While it's difficult to imagine packaging-free grocery shopping becoming the norm, consumers are becoming more environmentally conscious. Brands should be taking initiative to promote their sustainability and recycling programs via packaging, and converters can play an essential role in making that happen. Converters should consider partnering with the brand to ensure their environmental efforts are included in the packaging's design. Or, go a step further to create a marketing campaign with the brand to highlight the aspects of packaging production that can have a positive effect on the environment. Consumers want to feel good about what they're buying, including how and where the packaging was produced. Both brands and converters need to play a role in addressing consumers' environmental concerns in order to stay competitive.
Let's hear some of your thoughts!