Plastic-Free, Zero Waste Movement Gains Traction, Slowly



Like curbing carbon-dioxide emissions before it, recycling plastic waste has become table stakes in the environmental movement and, thus, to sustainability-sensitive brands as well. Ekoplaza has become the latest brand to tie its reputation to efforts to curb or round up plastic waste that ends up everywhere on the planet from landfills to the Deep Blue Sea.

The upmarket Dutch supermarket has introduced a plastic-free concept store where shoppers can find all sorts of CPG goods but not a smidgen of plastic. All 680 meats, sauces, cereals, yogurts, chocolates and other items are packaged in compostable materials or in glass, metal or cardboard.

“It’s not just a marketing trick; it’s something we worked on for years,” Erik Does, CEO of Ekoplaza, told the New York Times.

EU countries have been pro-active on the plastic-ban front, with UK Prime Minister Theresa May recently calling for exactly what Ekoplaza did: creating plastic-free aisles in supermarkets. The EU is on-track to make all plastic in items sold in Europe recyclable by 2030.

In the U.S., a number of startups are helping collect and recycle ocean plastic including the New York-based Parley for the Oceans, which has partnered with Adidas, and a Raleigh, N.C.-based startup called Oceanworks, which has worked with brands to turn ocean plastic into products such as sunglasses and surf apparel.

“They know it’s a problem, and they want to connect, but they didn’t have the bandwidth or mechanisms to get there,” Khalifa told brandchannel. “We did.”

While there are other examples of zero-waste stores—in New YorkViennaCopenhagen and Montreal—there is a whole town in Japan that says it will be 100% waste-free by 2020.

While there’s a long way to go to turn back the tide of plastic packaging for companies that use it to wrap every conceivable product in everything from cellophane to hard-plastic clamshell hanging packages, businesses like Ekoplaza are among those companies and brands willing to try.