In a nutshell – because we think it is urgently needed for both the planet and customers.
And before we go any further we need to clarify the term “zero waste”: it is not a destination – it is a target. No one can ever claim to be zero waste in today's society: even if they shop at zero waste stores and recycle every single item that enters their home that they do not consume, there is still going to be waste produced, in the manufacture and distribution of all of the items they use.
And so this is why whenever we ourselves user the term zero waste we mean “as close to zero as possible – and getting closer all the time.”
The reasons we are opening a zero waste supermarket (an artist's impression seen above) in Birmingham are as follows:
Plastic free: we will sell all of our produce without using any single use plastic. We will sell reusable containers so that on your first visit you can buy the pasta or coffee or tea container that you will then use for the next 10 or 20 years and then refill on each visit to our supermarket.
We are passionate about the environment and we believe that you can sell food without plastic; Plastic which is used for a total of around 10 minutes but then persists in the environment for thousands of years, hurting the planet and wildlife while it fails to decompose. In fact estimates are that by 2050 the amount of plastic in the ocean will outweigh the amount of fish; we are determined to do something about this!
We will stock a large variety of food, drinks, cleaning products and toiletries at launch and we will then expand this into shorter shelf life products which are risky to stock until we know our customer base - when food waste is another of the key points we wish to address! We will also have a very good selection of vegan alternatives and organic produce.
Food waste: between a third and a half of all food produced is wasted – whether it is because it is not pretty enough to go onto the shelves of the supermarkets or because it goes past its sell by date and gets thrown away at home.
Think about that – a third to a half of all food. If we could just cut out that waste we could have enough food to feed every hungry person on earth, and reduce deforestation, soil depletion and species extinctions. Avoiding that horrific amount of food waste would mean a lot less carbon burnt in producing, transporting and storing food, and a lot less packaging used to protect food that just gets thrown out.
What we can do here and now in Birmingham is open a supermarket that just does not use packaging and sells food that customers use their own containers to store and to fill up at the shop. Because people can buy the precise amount that they need and they know they will use, food waste is greatly reduced at supermarkets like ours.
Spending less money: we know that the packaging of food can account for a fifth of its price: we intend to pass along these savings to our customers and make working towards a zero waste, zero plastic lifestyle possible for everyone. Also, as people will be able to come in any buy the exact amount of ingredients that they need there will be much less waste and food budgets will be able to be stretched further; those who struggle to put food on the table every night will be able to buy single portion amounts allowing them to afford all the ingredients for one meal.
This is why we think that a zero waste, plastic free supermarket is needed in Birmingham – and why we will open one very soon.