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German grocery store doesn’t waste, rest of food industry should follow suit

In Berlin, Germany, storeowners Sara Wolf and Milena Glimbovski have crowdfunded a revolutionary project that dares to accomplish the “impossible.”

The two women established a grocery store – Original Unverpackt [Unpackaged] – and sell upwards of 350 different products that are dispensed from refillable containers, while some of the liquid commodities come in bottles with individual

deposits.

What makes Original Unverpackt special is the fact that the unique dispersion system creates zero waste. The costumer is able to cater to his or her needs, purchasing only what is needed – thus creating less waste at home, as well.

Today, grocery stores offer products that are sold in brightly colored, attention-grabbing packages that are designed to appeal

to customers.

However, Wolf and Glimbovski recognize that this kind of marketing only leads to waste and they firmly believe that package-free groceries are the answer.

At Original Unverpackt, many of the food products are placed in gravity-storage receptacles – the same way that many candy stores have operated for years.

Customers supply their own containers from home and are able to purchase exactly how much they need.

Fresh fruits and vegetables are left unpackaged and products such as pasta, cereal and cheese are kept in cellophane-free packaging or glass jars.

In the event that someone forgets their canisters or bags at home or decides to do some spontaneous shopping, Original Unverpackt has containers and recycled paper bags available for purchase.

Wolf and Glimbovski have also worked closely with health authorities during the development and launch of the store, so all processes are strictly hygienic and safe

for consumers.

As a college student, this type of store strongly appeals to me because food waste is an area that I strive to improve upon in my own life.

Just last night, I threw away about a third of a loaf of bread because I didn’t eat it fast enough and it grew moldy. Unfortunately, food waste is an issue for many other Americans, as well.

According to the United States Environmental Protection Agency [EPA], only 4.8 percent of food products were recovered from the initial 36.43 million tons that were produced in the United States in 2012.

Sadly, 53.80 percent of our municipal solid waste [MSW] was also discarded

completely.

As for plastics, 31.75 million tons were generated, while only 2.80 million tons were recovered [an 8.8 percent recovery rate.]

Similarly for paper and paperboard, 68.82 million tons were generated and 44.36 million tons were recovered [a 64.6 percent recovery rate.] The recovery rates for glass and all metals was 27.7 percent and 34.0 percent,

respectively.

As you can imagine, grocery stores use and supply all of the aforementioned products: plastic, cardboard, glass, metal and, most

importantly, food.

Although Original Unverpackt is the first of its kind and the Berlin location is merely a pilot store, I think that this project has the potential to send the message to the rest of the food industry that alternative methods of operation are both feasible and worth the effort – and that the current method of grocery shopping is not sustainable.

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