America has a packaging problem. Product packages cost manufacturers money to create and add to shipping costs. Packages also suck up shelf space for retailers. And they add cost and trouble for consumers who must recycle or discard it.
But we can't live without packaging, can we?
One startup's founders think maybe we can.
The company, in.gredients, plans to open its first organic-and-natural food grocery store in Austin, Texas this fall as a "package-free, zero-waste" food emporium. The founders -- brothers: Christian, Patrick and Joseph Lane, along with Christopher Pepe, their business partner -- are currently raising $15,000 in startup capital on the online platform IndieGoGo (the offering is already oversold).
Plans are for in.gredients to offer mostly bulk products, providing recyclable, reusable containers to customers who forgot to bring bags and tubs from home. Home containers will be weighed so checkers can subtract their weight from your purchase-price calculation.
Products to be sold include spices, grains, produce, dried fruits and nuts, flours, oils, dairy products, meats, household cleaners, and locally produced beer and wine (B.Y.O. bottle).
Despite these efforts, the zero-waste goal won't truly be achieved. Most manufacturers will still ship goods in some kind of container--they're not going to open the back of a truck and just let tomatoes spill out. And in.gredients' store description notes that food-hygiene laws require at least a modest amount of packaging for some products.
But likely in.gredients will create far less waste than a typical grocery.
While in.gredients is just one small startup, retailers and consumers have the power to influence manufacturers to reduce or eliminate packaging.
Many major retailers have packaging rules and strive to cut the amount of packaging they handle each year. Whether it's environmentally motivated or not, there's a bottom line that cutting packaging saves money.
Is your business trying to cut package waste? Leave a comment and let us know how you handle this issue.