The Problem with Packaging

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According to the German federal environment agency, around 140 million tonnes of rubbish are currently floating in our oceans (Welt Online), and as such, man-made packaging and the subsequent rubbish cluttering our land and seas is now one of the greatest challenges we face today. 16 million tonnes of packaging are thrown out every year in Germany alone (and Germans are notoriously diligent recyclers!) I won’t even begin to imagine what that same statistic might be for countries that hardly recycle at all.

Kasia and I once attempted a week of grocery shopping without packaging, and let me tell you, it’s ridiculously difficult. Where does one buy flour without the bag? Or milk without a carton? Or salt? Or lentils? Or oil? When you think about it, almost everything in modern supermarkets is packaged these days…to the point where you can get individual ears of corn vacuum packed in little plastic bags. Is this really necessary?

Well, German co-founder and CEO of ‘Original Unverpackt’, Milena Glimbovski, doesn’t think so. Milena recognised this issue and left her career in communications to join the “zero waste” movement, entering the food retail industry to provide an alternative option for consumers looking to buy groceries without unneccessary packaging…

And so the first Original Unverpackt store opened in September 2014 in Kreuzberg, Berlin…a supermarket chain without any disposable packaging or unnecessary waste.

To avoid packaging waste at every stage of the supply chain, Original Unverpackt buys its goods in bulk to reduce waste in the delivery process. The store also only purchases from regional, organic farms and producers, and offers a range of over 400 different products, including some cosmetics.

While the idea is brilliant and the principles appear to be followed through, I do wonder if this would work on a larger scale. Original Unverpackt is looking to set up a wider-spread franchise, and I would love to see an initiative like this move from the alternative fringes into the mainstream. Perhaps then prices would be much more affordable for everyone, and the demand for unpackaged goods could increase and catch on with larger, more powerful supermarket chains.

The Original Unverpackt Supermarkt can be visited in Wiener Straße 16 in Berlin-Kreuzberg, Germany.

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