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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Market Chain To Donate Leftover Food To Needy

To accommodate a plethora of customers and increase sustainability, supermarkets across the globe have been making changes. From hosting seasonal “quiet hours” to selling perfectly edible expired products, chains are catering to various needs better than ever. Aiming to reduce both waste and poverty, Aldi is donating all its unsold fresh foods to underprivileged families.

“As Aldi stores will shut at 4pm on Christmas Eve until December 27, they will have a variety of good quality surplus food products that they will wish to redistribute in support of less fortunate individuals and to prevent food going to waste.” [the supermarket announced.]

To stay organized, Aldi is inviting local charities to collect the items for distribution. Each branch hopes to set out at least 20 to 30 crates of leftover food. So far, the initiative is gaining traction and supporters, all thanks to social media.

“Kudos to Aldi arranging for dispersal of unsold food on Christmas Eve to organisations helping those in need.  Let’s hope others follow suit. Well done.” [said a netizen.]

Talk about killing two birds with one stone — except maybe the stone is an apple.

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Britain Opens First Zero-Waste Packaging-Free Store

A Norway supermarket is selling expired food to alleviate food waste, and now Britain wants in on the action. Former Manchester United star Richard Eckersley runs Earth.Food.Love, a zero-waste packaging-free store. It’s the first of its kind in Britain.

It’s the first zero waste store in the UK, retailing a range of up to 200 pesticide-free products – but to shop there, you’ll have to come along with your own pots, jars and sandwich bags.

The store also uses eco-energy and is completely organic, so milk and alcohol are off the menu. Totnes is home to the charming boutique, as Eckersley claims it wouldn’t have fared as well in Manchester.

“We just didn’t think Manchester was ready for this kind of shop, but we hope the idea will spread and more people will follow the idea in future.”

Having played alongside Ronaldo and Rooney, Eckersley ought to give himself some credit for the store’s popularity. However, he and wife Nicola focus on being “ethical, wholesome, and organic.” But there is no denying the rewarding boost of fame.

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Insect Burgers Are Hitting Swiss Supermarkets

Just a few months ago, Little-Food in Brussels placed crickets on their menu. Now, insect burgers are hitting Swiss supermarkets. It sounds adventurous, but not for the faint of heart.

The mealworm burger patties, which also contain rice, carrots and spices such as oregano and chili, will cost 8.95 francs ($9.24) for a pack of two… The bug balls will sell at the same price for a pack of 10, and both products hit shelves of select stores on Aug 21.

Mealworm patties and bug balls? Appetizing. While insect cuisines are common in Asia and Africa, they aren’t so popular in Europe. However, a number of chains have been working to include them in menus.

Coop has been working with Swiss startup Essento to prepare the meat substitutes for three years… Essento breeds mealworms in Belgium, but intends to produce in Switzerland going forward.

According to the source, when roasted, mealworms become nutty, which is perfect for heavy snackers. Although some could do without knowing they’re munching on beetle larvae. Salty!

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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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Norway Selling Expired Food To Alleviate Waste

Color-changing food labels may be helping households to reduce waste, but the technology isn’t available to everyone. In fact, researchers in Finland have figured out how to produce food from energy because they’re that concerned. Norway wants to make life easier (and a lot more sustainable) by selling expired food to alleviate waste issues. Allow me to introduce you to Best Før.

“Most supermarkets won’t buy products that are within 10 days or so of their expiry date – it often has to be wasted. We thought, ‘Why don’t we make a place that has that kind of product, that will be beneficial to every party: the consumer, the supplier, and us. A win-win for everybody,”

Urban legend has it that dates on “use by” labels mark a product’s ultimate demise. In reality, food can remain edible weeks after their expiration dates. All it takes is a good eye and a lot of observation.

A platform called bestfør.no, helps supermarkets identify food at risk of becoming inedible through a digital record of products’ sell-by dates, allowing stores to locate the food that needs a lower price, or alert charities of a load of produce coming their way, without the fuss of searching through the shelves.

Food waste produces tons of CO2, which worsens climate change. By simply making the best of what is still usable, we can easily combat pollution. And if you know what you’re doing, even whip up a great meal.

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Newlyweds Host Zero Waste Wedding Reception

With technologies like the carbon calculator allowing us to determine our impact on the environment, there is no reason we shouldn’t be more eco-conscious. For this newlywed British couple, it didn’t take an app to host a zero waste wedding reception. A combination of patience and careful planning was all it took to prepare a sustainable feast.

Charlotte and Nick contacted the Real Junk Food Cafe in Wigan, which intercepts food still fit for human consumption but heading for landfill, and has the slogan “feed bellies, not bins”.

The couple first successfully obtained frozen chicken and soft fruit rejected by various supermarkets. With only a day before the wedding to go, there was much to do — but not much to buy.

“We’d never catered for a wedding before and I had a few sleepless nights wondering exactly what food would come in,” explains Shirley Southwood, who with partner Ann Fairhurst founded the cafe two years ago.

“The only item I had to buy was a bottle of white wine for the sauce,”

Bride Charlotte holds the sentiment that while weddings can be an opportunity for “over-expense”, they can also be low-impact. She and hubby Nick even chose to forego a traditional wedding list, instead opting to ask guests for secondhand goodies. If a thrift store gown isn’t your thing, maybe a food waste buffet could be. It may sound gut-churning, but if it tastes delicious, why not?

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