Why this grocery chain is ditching single-use bottled water

In case you stroll down the drinks aisle inside one in every of New Seasons Market’s Portland, Oregon, grocery shops later this month, you’ll discover one thing lacking: A shelf that used to carry bottled water will probably be largely empty, with plastic and glass bottles changed by a smaller variety of reusable bottles. One other empty shelf under it is going to be coated with an indication boosting reuse.

New Seasons Market, a chain of 19 shops based totally in Oregon, and New Leaf Neighborhood Markets, its California-based subsidiary, will now not promote commonplace single-use bottled water, beginning April 22. “We’ve been fascinated about packaging basically for a very long time,” says sustainability supervisor Athena Petty. Two years in the past, managers determined to start planning easy methods to get rid of bottled water from retailer cabinets.

[Photo: New Seasons Market]

The sustainability problem from bottled water retains rising. By one estimate, greater than half a trillion plastic bottles will probably be produced this 12 months, and the bulk received’t be recycled. As customers have turn out to be extra conscious of the issue—and the truth that hundreds of thousands of tons of plastic leads to the ocean—some water manufacturers have began shifting to several types of packaging. Aluminum cans are particularly well-liked. However New Seasons Market’s choice applies to all aluminum and glass bottles as properly.

“We’ve been actually attempting to guide by making selections which can be science-based,” says Petty, who received suggestions from the Oregon Division of Environmental High quality because the grocery staff researched the impacts of several types of packaging. It’s not that different supplies don’t have negatives: Glass, for instance, is extra more likely to be recycled however has the next carbon footprint when bottles are delivered as a result of it’s heavier. Aluminum cans are additionally extra more likely to be recycled however more than half within the U.S. nonetheless find yourself trashed. Making an aluminum can, even with recycled materials, additionally has some environmental affect.

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[Photo: New Seasons Market]

“Simply eradicating plastic takes away the chance to drive the actual message, which is, we shouldn’t be fascinated about utilizing issues as soon as, interval,” Petty says. “What we have to do as a tradition is change conduct to at least one that basically helps reuse and stopping waste earlier than it turns into a difficulty within the first place.” The corporate is additionally experimenting with different methods to extend reusable packaging, together with a partnership with a startup that gives reusable containers for meals in its deli.

The shops will proceed promoting bigger plastic jugs of each nonetheless and glowing water. “We did a wide range of analytics to resolve what is the correct mix and dimension of water bottles to get rid of from our shelf and determined to go together with something that you might get from the faucet,” she says. “In order that’s one liter and fewer nonetheless water.”

For patrons who come into the shop desirous to stroll out with a small bottle of water, a reusable bottle from Pathwater is a substitute. The shops even have refill stations. Whereas its clients in sustainability-focused Portland and Santa Cruz would possibly already be extra probably than the typical American to hold reusable bottles, the change will nonetheless make a distinction: In a 12 months, the shops have been promoting greater than 1 / 4 of 1,000,000 bottles of water.