The modern grocery shopper seems to be increasingly aware not of just what he or she is throwing in the cart, but also how that item is packaged, especially whether or not the cartons, containers or wrappings are made of plastic. One grocery store in Netherlands has made things even easier for the eco-conscious consumer, introducing what it claims is the world’s first plastic-free aisle.
Ekoplaza, a Dutch supermarket chain, revealed its all-biodegradable, compostable or recyclable aisle on Wednesday, at one of its locations in Amsterdam. The 700-ish items on those shelves include items from all major food groups, including beef, cereals, vegetable blends and yogurts, and they’re all packaged in glass, metal or cardboard – or fully compostable materials made of plant fibers, wood pulp, cellulose or lactic acid. (On its website, Ekoplaza does admit that there is a “very small layer of plastic” in the coating of the lids on some glass containers).
Sian Sutherland, the co-founder of A Plastic Planet, the group that encouraged Ekoplaza (and other grocery retailers) to ditch the plastic packaging called it “a landmark moment” in decreasing consumer waste. “For decades shoppers have been sold the lie that we can’t live without plastic in food and drink,” Sutherland said, according to The Guardian. “A plastic-free aisle dispels all that. Finally we can see a future where the public have a choice about whether to buy plastic or plastic-free. Right now we have no choice.”
Ekoplaza has vowed to introduce a plastic-free aisle at all 74 of its locations in the Netherlands before the end of this year. Last month, British Prime Minister Theresa May promised that supermarket shelves in the United Kingdom would be completely plastic-free within the next 25 years. “In years to come, I think people will be shocked at how today we allow so much plastic to be produced needlessly,” she said. According to the New York Times, leaders in the European Union have also vowed to make all plastic in the European market completely recyclable by 2030.
Leaders in the United States have yet to make any similar proclamations, but fingers crossed that we’ll have our own plastic-free – or even reduced-plastic retailers – within the near-future. Our planet would certainly appreciate it.