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The global drive towards minimizing packaging is expected to gather increased momentum as pressure escalates for Retailers. Producers who don’t get involved could miss out on an opportunity to reconnect with consumers and drive future sales, while doing so responsibly and sustainably.  

The revolution is snowballing. We’d like to show you some anti-packaging innovations that are steering us towards a clean future. Each one takes advantage of ground-breaking materials and technologies, that are now being primed for mass production, and opening up to mass adoption.

1. Notpla leads the pre-cycling

“We are a team of designers and chemists, engineers and entrepreneurs. We’re hard to define, because what we’ve done hasn’t been done before.” – Notpla Team 

 Notpla is a strong, thin film made from seaweed and plants that can be used to create sachets of anything, from water to juices, sauces and cleaning agents. It biodegrades completely within a matter of weeks, so you don’t have to worry about polluting the environment with plastic that will remain intact for thousands of years. Notpla is edible and virtually flavourless. Talk about pre-cycling! It’s already been used in place of plastic sachets at the 2019 London Marathon, reducing the number of plastic bottles used by 219 000.  

 Concerned about seaweed propagation? Well it grows up to a meter a day, doesn’t interfere with crop production, doesn’t need fresh water or chemicals and even counters the acidification of our oceans. Notpla is now working on a range of nets and sealable films, taking them into the packaging of a wide variety of foods that are currently packaged almost exclusively in plastic.

2. Pick ‘n Pay leads the market in compostable shopping bags

Large South African retailer Pick ‘n Pay has developed a biodegradable shopping bag made out of maize and potato starch, allowing them to slowly biodegrade over 6 months to a year. Considering a regular Pick ‘n Pay plastic packet takes 500 to 1000 years to decompose, we consider this an enormous improvement. They will roll-out the new bags in 2020. 

“The important difference is that these trial bags are also home compostable. They are designed to collect organic waste, such as your kitchen scraps, and will compost with the organic waste in a home compost environment.” – Suzanne Ackerman-Berman, Pick ‘n Pay Director of Transformation 

Other South African retailers such as SPAR and Woolworths are also working on competing designs, which will appeal to environmentally conscious consumers, drive customer loyalty and put pressure on other retailers to join the trend.

3. Nude Foods and Waitrose show how we can shop without plastic

Nude Foods is a non-GMO, plastic-free bulk grocery store in Cape Town. They source locally and let consumers bring their own reusable containers to dispense food out of large permanent containers. This means they not only drastically reduce unnecessary waste, but they have highly competitive pricing, drawing consumers away from larger less-environmentally conscious retailers. 

 Waitrose is one of the UK’s largest retailers and has bravely adopted a similar system to Nude Foods in some of its flagship stores, albeit only as a section within the store that is zoned packaging-free. Not only have sales gone up, but customer loyalty has surged in these areas and Waitrose plans to roll-out their ‘Unpacked’ scheme nationwide.

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