Zero-waste trials in stores

2021-10-28 by Jim Crickell
Environmental green

Zero waste is the way to get to a plastic-free future. A typical zero-waste store sells plastic-free items which help people reduce their waste generation. As a marketing strategy, promoting products and services in an eco-friendly manner not only shows commitment to the consumer, but it also shows a commitment to the greater good. A brand that encourages a zero waste lifestyle has a positive image. The imminent ban on plastic straws has seen fast-food chains introducing paper straws. The youth today are more connected, informed, and demanding about sustainable living than ever before. Hence, it is only right for stores to become zero-waste stores.

Waste is estimated to cost businesses $18.2 billion a year, and grocery store companies are under pressure to reduce waste. Zero-waste markets have succeeded in Europe, and in the US the Environmental Protection Agency has estimated that containers and packaging make up 23% of landfill waste.  Plastic pollution is strangling the life out of our oceans. Hence, grocers are increasingly under pressure to reduce their waste footprint. The backlash against plastic packaging waste is also intensifying. In 2016, California banned plastic bags. Hence, grocers are being forced to reevaluate their packaging choices. As a result, some retailers have designed stores that encourage customers to bring their own containers.

In Denver, the retail store  Zero Market sells bulk home and body-care products such as body oils, household cleaners, shampoos, and detergents. They sell a large selection of zero waste goods The company EcoRoots offers zero waste products made in-house, and sends them to customers in recyclable packaging. The products of Marley’s Monsters, based in Oregon have sustainability and simplicity in mind. Not only are the products like face masks and cloth napkins affordable, but they are also shipped plastic-free. Life Without Plastic is an online store that uses plastic-free packing material such as paper,  cellulose-based tape, and compostable cornstarch packing peanuts.

Far from being a niche trend limited to premium or independent retailers, reusable packaging is being explored by major players. Kroger has announced a plan to eliminate all food waste in its stores and across the company by 2025. Its food waste efforts are focused on departments like produce, meat, and seafood– where most of the waste is produced. To address this waste the company has launched an imperfect produce program in all its stores. In each of the stores, space is designated to sell discounted, imperfect produce. The company has also established a $10 million fund to support food-waste solutions. The company also extended its commitment to waste created by packaging. It plans to eliminate plastic bags from its stores by 2025.

Zero-waste businesses save money too– by reducing labor, energy, and disposal costs.