Here at OGN Towers we are constantly dismayed by how much stuff still comes wrapped in plastic and even more disappointed by how much of it comes with the doom-laden label that says 'not yet re-cycled'. It's clear that more needs to be done by governments to improve matters by forcing packaging to be more eco-friendly.
In the meantime, some pioneering companies are taking matters into their own hands and then, literally, in to yours. A couple of weeks ago we published a story - The End of Plastic Bottles? - about new plant-based bottles being pioneered by Carlsberg and Coca-Cola that will degrade in a year. Promising stuff!
Now another giant corporation is stepping in to the frame. Nestle has been piloting a new zero waste programme for their products in selected stores in Switzerland that significantly reduces plastic waste.
Purina cat food and Nescafé coffee are some of the products the Swiss can now get in the refill stations, supplied by start-up Miwa. The systems use reusable “smart cups,” so instead of scooping out the product yourself (always a bit random and not totally 'clean'), the dispenser automatically measures out the product directly into the cup that you hold under the dispenser.
Through a special downloadable app, shoppers can pay for the product on their phone immediately after filling the container, and look at the nutrition information and expiration dates via the app too. One external study found that the Miwa system cut the overall environmental impact of packaging by more than two-thirds and have been so successful and popular that Nestle is expanding the programme in cities across the country.
Nestle plans to make all of its packaging reusable or recyclable by 2025 and also plans to cut its use of virgin plastic by a third. These new systems are a big part of reaching that goal, as are the company's experiments with reusable water dispensers and compostable packaging to further reduce their plastic footprint.
These high tech stations are a great solution for expanding zero waste shopping beyond small niche stores to include large retailers as well. And, if all shoppers like it as much as the Swiss, zero-waste shopping should rapidly gain momentum.