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Zero Waste/Refill Shops – packaging

Q: How are goods delivered to zero waste shops and how are they packaged?

Below are some comments from people who run zero waste shops or market stalls:

“Anywhere that does refills of lilly’s eco clean – it comes in giant containers that the company takes back.

Flour and oats tend to come in paper sacks.

Coffee beans usually come in big reusable plastic tubs from the roasters.

Some stuff definitely comes in plastic, but as it’s bulk it’s still a huge reduction versus everyone buying teeny bags in a supermarket.”

“I know that one shop gets all cleaning product containers refilled by the suppliers.”

“Most of the dry product like lentils, red kidney, beans, seeds, some nuts like hazelnuts are in paper bag 25kg, most of other nuts are in 10kg or 12.5kg box with vacuum plastic bag, sugar paper bag 25kg, most of the dried fruit 12.5kg box with plastic liner.”

“For my market stall, most stuff came in paper sacks, some in plastic sacks or plastic lined sacks (but very few) spices came in plastic bags usually and the dried fruit and nuts maybe (I forget) came in cardboard boxes with a plastic bag inside.  Pasta came in plastic bags inside a box (but I know other places have found a supplier in paper).  But whatever way you look at it, it is still better than the supermarket where the stuff is packed in tiny plastic bags, which come in a bigger plastic bag, probably delivered on a crate wrapped in plastic.”

“I saw one ZW shop asking if anyone wanted their bulk soap containers, as the supplier was UK based so couldn’t take them back for refill.  If no-one takes them, then I presume they just get shipped overseas to hopefully be recycled like our household plastic.  In that case, maybe buying items that come in recycled packages is a good alternative, as you are then helping to create a market for recycled plastic, and keeping it out of landfill or the sea.”

REGARDING LIQUIDS:

“For our Tru Eco products (4 in total), the empty 20L containers are returned to them via a distributor.  Other items are not currently returned to the manufacturer (for example, the shampoo and conditioner and body washes), as they are manufactured outside of Ireland. But, we are constantly trying to source products that would have that facility, so maybe we will get back to you at some point with good news on that front.”