Singapore's First Zero-Waste Grocery Store Is Ready To Launch

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Nov. 19 2020, Updated 9:41 p.m. ET

A new grocery store in Singapore will have no plastic packaging at all. How will this work? Customers can bring in their own containers to purchase goods, significantly cutting down on plastic waste. In fact, this means no plastic waste will be generated by the store, as all products will be stored in gravity bins. “Unpackt” provides cheaper prices for consumers, and is aimed at helping bring down the volume of plastic waste in the country overall.

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On average, 420 metric tons of plastic bags were thrown away on a daily basis last year in Singapore. That amounts to 2,640 bags being tossed every three seconds. Even with the amount of bags being recycled, shredding and recycling company Impetus Conceptus says that up to 70 percent of the bags they received are thrown out due to contamination.

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Just the plastic bags isn’t even the worst part of the pollution. Putting this on a bigger scale, 800,000 metric tons of plastic waste was generated in Singapore last year. Most of that comes in the form of packaging material, and only six percent of that was recycled.

This has prompted a new way to look at how products are distributed to consumers. Unpackt will be placing their goods in self-serving bins and customers will use their own reusable containers to put them in. A recycling program will have containers for sale that were donated for new customers or those that forgot to bring one themselves.

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Dried food and cleaning supplies will be the first products offered at the new store, which is anticipated to open up in the first week of May. Fresh fruits and vegetables will be added to the market when they become a little more established. An online store will launch in the future, though no plans were revealed on how to make that work without packaging.

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The new store will be the first to generate zero-waste in Singapore according to Eco-Business. It’ll also provide cheaper products since all of it will be distributed without packaging. We may not think of it at the time, but some of the retail price is reflected in how groceries are packaged and designed.

We’ve seen other grocery stores launch zero-waste markets in the past. NU Grocery opened up in Canada’s capital city of Ottawa last year. Any product that’s able to be stored in bins are, such as various produce, dairy, and cosmetics. It wouldn’t be a surprise to see more options like this at Unpackt as it matures.

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