If there were regular sustainability awards (there should be!), this week’s would go to Dutch supermarket chain, Ekoplaza.
The upmarket brand of supermarkets found in locations all across The Netherlands is making news this week for introducing a totally plastic-free aisle for environmentally-conscious shoppers, in collaboration with UK-based grassroots organisation A Plastic Planet.
In a world first, everything in the Amsterdam branch aisle (regular groceries like meats, rice, sauces, cereals, chocolate and even fruit and vegetables) is packaged either in recyclable or compostable materials, like glass, metal and cardboard.
The Internet is stoked:
For Ekoplaza, this is more than a passing trend. Instead, it’s a considered attempt to combat the mountains of plastic waste generated by European shoppers every day, and a means of generating conversation about how supermarkets can and should be in involved in the fight for waste reduction. According to A Plastic Planet, 40 per cent of all plastic created is used for packaging, and half of that amount is used for food and drink products.
A Plastic Planet co-founder Sian Sutherland, who has been calling for plastic-free aisles in The UK since last year, says the development is “a landmark moment for the global fight against plastic pollution”. In an interview with the Independent, Sutherland went on to say that Ekoplaza “has set an example that the UK’s supermarkets must follow at the earliest opportunity. Our biggest supermarkets must introduce plastic-free aisles urgently.”
Any goods stocked in the aisle at Ekoplaza will carry a Plastic Free Mark, a special and easily recognisable label created by A Plastic Planet.
Around Europe and the rest of the world, shoppers, companies and leading politicians alike are waking up to just how harmful plastic is to the environment – and how reliant we are on it. In the UK, supermarket chain Iceland has pledged to be completely plastic-free by 2023.
In Australia, the fight continues: our two biggest supermarket brands, Coles and Woolworths, have committed to ‘banning the bag’ in 2018. The Netherlands pipped us to the post on that one – a European directive banned plastic bags in the country in 2015.
Ekoplaza is expecting to set up the aisles in 74 branches across the Netherlands within 2018.
Here’s hoping Australia follows suit in the not-too-distant future.