There are about 38,000 supermarkets in the United States alone and they are responsible for vast quantities of waste in the form of single-use plastic bags, plastic containers that store food products, and food waste as well. Globally, over 80% of poll respondents feel strongly that companies should help improve the environment. Responding to this message, markets are starting to make changes.
In a number of places, there are now markets that are package-free. The Nada grocery store in Vancouver and Precycle in Brooklyn are examples of zero waste grocery stores. Websites like Litterless provide online help for customers trying to find packaging-free grocery stores.
Markets are not only changing their packaging, they are using artificial intelligence to develop more sustainable production processes and seeking other ways to reduce waste.
On average, Americans throw away over 300 plastic bags a year, but an increasing number of grocery retailers are making commitments to more sustainable, plastic-free options. It isn’t just small stores either. Grocery giant Kroger plans to eliminate plastic bags in its stores by 2025. When that happens, it means that 6 billion plastic bags will no longer be distributed. Big Y stores will fully transition to reusable bags by next year. More and more cities and states are banning or imposing fees on plastic bags.
An interesting statistic shows that the age group of Americans that is leading the adoption of reusable grocery bags is not millennials but in fact is people over 50. With multiple generations now indicating that they want shopping to be more sustainable, it is likely that supermarkets will strive to help make that happen.
Photo, posted March 4, 2013, courtesy of Dean Hochman via Flickr.