42 Food Giants Pledge to Ax Plastic

2018 gave us a lot of eco-friendly changes in the food industry: Pepsi debuted reusable bottles for flavored beverages, Dunkin Donuts ditched foam cups from their packaging, even McDonald’s followed suit with foam cups and plastic straws. I hate to say that this environmentalist trend among food giants has reached its peak with the good news I bring now, but it does feel like a culmination of sorts.

A total of 42 food companies in the UK — composed of retailers, supermarkets, manufacturers, and brands — have pledged to ax single-use plastics by 2025.

Together, the signatories represent roughly 80% of the plastics sold in UK supermarkets. The initiative . . . has set a series of goals to cut wasteful packaging over the course of the next seven years. For starters, the initiative will ensure that 100% of plastic packaging must either be recyclable, compostable, or reusable in order to make it onto supermarket shelves. Some supermarkets have gone even further and declared that plastic packaging will no longer be used on fruits and vegetables.

The signatories include UK brands like Asda, Nestle, Lidl, Coca-Cola, Aldi, PepsiCo, Unilever, Tesco, Waitrose, Morrisons, Sainsbury, and many others. Besides ensuring the elimination of single-use plastics, the pledge also covers recycling. The current recycling rate is 30%, and the participating food giants seek to bump it up to 70%.

Environment Secretary Michael Gove, who is backing the pact, said in a statement: “Our ambition to eliminate avoidable plastic waste will only be realized if government, businesses, and the public work together.”

In addition to bringing super chic eco-bags to the supermarket, well, I guess I just have to remember this pledge to feel less guilty when buying those apples.

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Amsterdam Supermarket Boasts Plastic-Free Options

Despite a growing abundance of zero-waste shopping options, other alternatives have yet to hit mainstream stores. In a supermarket first, Amsterdam’s Ekoplaza is making over 700 plastic-free products available to the public.

“We know that our customers are sick to death of products laden in layer after layer of thick plastic packaging,” Ekoplaza chief executive Erik Does said.

“Plastic-free aisles are a really innovative way of testing the compostable biomaterials that offer a more environmentally friendly alternative to plastic packaging.”

With limited choices for items in non-plastic wrapping, bringing them to the masses makes a big statement. As an added bonus, manufacturing biodegradable containers won’t cost anything upwards from regular plastic materials. Ekoplaza will carry eco-friendly rice, sauces, snacks, and more packed in metal, glass, and cardboard.

“There is absolutely no logic in wrapping something as fleeting as food in something as indestructible as plastic,” [A Plastic Planet co-founder Sian] Sutherland said. “Plastic food and drink packaging remains useful for a matter of days yet remains a destructive presence on the Earth for centuries afterwards.”

As the greatest contributor to plastic waste in department stores, grocery aisles have long deserved eco-alternatives. Hopefully, they’re here to stay.

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Store Makes Giant Food Donation After Fridge Malfunction

In 2017, more markets and universities donated leftover food to charities than ever before. Just a week ago, Trader Joe’s did the same — but for, well, unexpected reasons. A refrigerator malfunction put 35,000 pounds of food at risk, and where better to end up than a local shelter?

“Everything that we deem is able to be consumed safely we donate to our neighbors and we’re really happy to participate in helping the community in that way,” [store captain Daniel] Sorscher said.

To clear shelves, the grocery giant also donates surplus on the daily. The Kalamazoo Gospel Mission, which runs mostly on donations, was the lucky recipient. Wanting to pay it forward, the group forwarded 4,000 pounds of goodies to a food bank.

“They just really exemplified a culture of generosity and we’re just so thankful for them,” [director of Food Service Greg] Weaver said.

Though the icy mishap was a letdown for sales, its twist ending was a pleasant surprise.

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Supermarket’s Quiet Hour Is For Autistic Shoppers

Every now and then, in the virtual universe, I stumble upon some very giving and compassionate people. Some like to make grand gestures. Bill Gates, one of the biggest philanthropists of our time, recently donated $4.6 billion in stakes to charity. Others show their generosity in different ways. This mom donated 5,000 pints of breastmilk to babies in need. Just yesterday, Coles supermarket, along with Autism Spectrum Australia, introduced “quiet hour” for its autistic shoppers.

During the that time, the store’s radio will be turned down to its lowest level, and the lights will be dimmed by 50 per cent.

Register and scanner volumes will be turned down to its lowest level, roll cages will be off the shop floor, trolley collections will stop, and PA announcements will be avoided — bar emergencies.

Quiet hour will run through to October, although all of us are wishing it’d be a permanent practice. Coles has been training staff to better understand sensory overload and how to cater to autistic customers’ needs.

“Although we have modified some of the physical and sensory stimulators in store, we also hope to achieve a ‘no-judgement’ shopping space for people and families on the spectrum, where customers will feel comfortable and welcome.”

Members of the Australian community are thrilled over the initiative, some taking to FaceBook to express their gratitude towards Coles. We may not fully understand how loud the world can be for these people, but we can always put our best foot forward.

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