Catherine Conway, the founder of sustainable shopping solution Unpackaged (and the inspiration for many identikit concepts across the world), has developed an exclusive retail offering with London high food giants Planet Organic that will set a precedent for the future of supermarket shopping. Currently unique to Planet Organic, Catherine has created a series of refillable dispensers for shoppers keen to keep their shopping footprint low. The scheme has been inspired by a more traditional way of shopping, where goods are measured and weighed and do not come in hard-to-recycle plastic packaging.
Following a successful trial at Muswell Hill, Unpackaged is being rolled out to Torrington Place in central London this week, with a second opening w/c 19th Feb in Westbourne Grove. On offer is a vast array of cereals, pulses, pastas, rice, nuts, seeds, dried fruit, chocolate and various other raw foodstuffs. The area is bright, well sign-posted and easy to use, with customers being invited to fill up their own containers and weigh it out themselves before taking it to the tills to pay.
Offering refills is different to ‘bulk’ shopping, which can be found around London and the UK but which does not deal with the issue of packaging waste. Catherine says, “With bulk, the customer is offered alternative packaging – often more plastic bags, whereas refill shopping is all about enabling customers to bring their own containers. To do this, we give them the ability to ‘tare’ and deduct the weight of any container they bring from the overall weight of the goods they are buying, so it’s self-service, easy to use, and complies with all legislation on weights, measures and labelling.”
Catherine goes on to say, “This is the future of shopping. Without getting sentimental, the ‘old’ way of shopping was much, much kinder to our environment. Supply chain was a simpler affair, and bulk offerings allowed shoppers to choose how much they wanted, thus cutting down on packaging AND food waste. I’m incredibly proud today. It’s a massive step in the long journey towards a truly zero waste weekly shop.”
Catherine founded Unpackaged in 2006 at market stalls around east London before opening a small shop in central London selling over 700 products in bulk, offering a solution to the growing problem of packaging waste. Since then, she has worked with countless entrepreneurs around the globe, helping them to set up similar shops in their own markets. Today, Unpackaged leads the way in retail and consultancy services tackling packaging at all stages of the supply chain. She continues to speak, write and campaign on all things Zero Waste.
Peter Marsh, founder and CEO of Planet Organic, says of the partnership, “I’ve known Catherine for around ten years, and believe she created a totally unique proposition with her zero-waste retail concept. Planet Organic customers are big-hearted, always striving to buy the best products they possibly can. ‘Conscious’ shopping is very much the future, and we’re ready for it.”