The Dutch supermarket chain Ekoplaza is the very first to host a plastic-free aisle, where food is wrapped in biodegradable plastic. Packaging containers are made from metal, glass and cardboard as well as compostable materials. This is a major advance in the fight against waste pollution. More than 700 grocery items with no plastic!
Some of the packaging may look plastic, but it’s actually a biofilm made of trees and plants that will break down within 12 weeks in a home composter, explains Ekoplaza. The products in the plastic-free section include: meat, rice, sauces, milk, chocolate, yogurt and of course fresh fruit and vegetables.
Ekoplaza said that by the end of the year, all 74 stores across the Netherlands will have a plastic-free aisle. The next store to roll out the eco-friendly aisle will be in The Hague, city located on the North Sea coast of the western Netherlands, and it isexpected to happen in June. The aisles will be a “test bed” for packaging materials that are able to be composted within specific physical properties.
“Plastic-free aisles are an important steppingstone to a brighter future for food and drinks”, said Ekoplaza Chief Executive Erik Does.
A Plastic Planet, the UK-based environmental group, has developed a plastic-free mark allowing shoppers to quickly identify products that have no plastic, and that’s where Ekoplaza took the idea from. “There is absolutely no logic in wrapping something as fleeting as food in something as indestructible as plastic,”said Sian Sutherland, co-founder of A Plastic Planet. “Plastic food and drink packaging remains useful for a matter of days yet remains a destructive presence on the earth for centuries afterwards.”
People across the globe use more than a million plastic bottles every minute, mostly for drinking water, and less than 9%of those bottles are actually recycled. After all, this is no surprise! For decades, consumers have been told that we can’t live without plastic in food, drink or any other goods.
But today, we finally have the opportunity to choose about whether to buy plastic or plastic free. This is a massive improvement!
However, Jessica Green, assistant professor of environmental studies at New York University, cautioned that sustainable consumerism has limits and it needs government regulations. “Sure, it’s great to consume less plastic when you make decisions about what to consume at the supermarket, but that’s not going to fix the problem” – she said.
As we already know, the amount of plastic used across the globe is terribly harmful to our planet. It often ends up in the oceans, harming birds, fish, and other species, as well as humans. In addition to this, recycling also uses also a great deal of energy.
Let’s hope that Ekoplaza experiment will help to educate consumers as well as companies!
In January this year, United Kingdom frozen food retailer Iceland said it would remove plastic packaging from all its own brand products by 2023, swapping plastic for paper and pulp trays, and using paper bags that are fully recyclable, either through local domestic waste collection or in-store recycling points.Moreover, just a couple of weeks ago, British Prime Minister Theresa May expressed the idea of plastic-free supermarket aisles as part of her green agenda.
Which country will be the greenest? Stay tuned to find out more!