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The Lempert Report
April 26, 2018

This supermarket is removing plastic

The Washington Post reports on a store that opened in February in Amsterdam with a point of differentiation – an aisle that has more than 700 grocery items — and no plastic packaging. Instead, food is displayed in glass, metal and cardboard containers, as well as materials that can be composted. 

The Post says that while some of the packaging may look plastic, it’s actually a biofilm made of trees and plants that will break down within 12 weeks in a home composter.The products in the plastic-free section include: meat, rice, sauces, milk, chocolate, yogurt and fresh fruit and vegetables. 

Ekoplaza said that by the end of the year, all 74 of its stores across the Netherlands will have this plastic-free aisle. The aisles will be a “test bed” for packaging materials that are able to be composted, according to the chain’s news release. 

“Plastic-free aisles are an important steppingstone to a brighter future for food and drink,” said Ekoplaza chief executive Erik Does in the statement. 

The idea came from the environmental group A Plastic Planet. The group has developed a plastic-free mark so shoppers can quickly identify products that have no plastic. 

“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.” 

Across the globe, people use more than a million plastic bottles each minute, mostly for drinking water, according to Ekoplaza’s website. Less than 9 percent of those bottles are recycled. 

Jessica Green, assistant professor of environmental studies at New York University, is doubtful.“Sure, it’s great to consume less plastic when you make decisions about what to consume at the supermarket,” she told the Washington Post. “But that’s not going to fix the problem.” 

But it is certainly a start for awareness of what changes can easily be made.