Since opening in February 2014, Germany’s first packaging-free store Unverpackt in Kiel has been pursuing a drastic reduction of packaging waste and the promotion of short delivery routes while motivating customers to rethink their consumer behavior in terms of sustainability.
A Case study written by Zero Waste Europe.
More than 100 stores in Germany are already following this example, the zero waste retail movement has only just begun.
HOW IT WORKS
Unverpackt is a different kind of grocery store. Here the goods are sold in bulk or with a deposit-return scheme1. For bulk items, customers bring empty containers with them, weigh them out, fill in the desired product, deduct the empty weight “tara” at the checkout and thus avoid packaging and food waste while buying only as much as one needs. Sensitive products such as milk and cream are available in deposit jars and bottles, under a deposit-return scheme.
The product range covers staple foods such as cereals, pasta, baking ingredients, spices, fresh fruit and vegetables as well as cleaning and hygiene products and accessories for a waste-free lifestyle. The majority of products are also regional, organic or fairtrade.
Unverpackt in Kiel has become the pioneer of a movement in Germany.
Through consulting and semi-nar services, talks and media coverage, “Unverpackt” has become an important part of the German lifestyle. At this point there are more than 100 similar stores in the country, which organise themselves as a network through social media and recently created a professional association.
Supermarket chains have also recognised the concept’s potential and are developing their own unpackaged areas. Numerous producers and suppliers are rethinking the packaging and transport costs of their supply chains and are motivated to change as a result of the economic and environmental advantages.
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