Approximately 90% of global plastic waste comes from food consumption. During the pandemic online grocery sales increased five-fold, which resulted in a staggering increase of waste, especially for single-use materials. Also think about that before the pandemic, plastic bags had finally been banned in numerous cities and supermarkets encouraged customers to bring their own bags. Then in fear of transmission, we were not allowed to. All good efforts we achieved were rolled back.
A company called Zero, America’s first plastic-free online grocery store, is tackling the problem with their mission to remove single-use plastics from the food system to make everyday sustainable living easier for everyone. They use a closed loop system by selling groceries in reusable containers.
Zero started out in San Francisco in 2018 by Zuleyka Strasner and husband. They opened a location in Los Angeles recently, but they also deliver to Oakland, San Bruno, Berkeley, Millbrae, Albany, Burlingame, San Mateo, Redwood City, Palo Alto, Menlo Park, Mountain View, San Carlos, El Cerrito, Richmond, San Leandro, Santa Clara, with many more to come.
Zero tries to purchase their produce locally as much as possible and their dairy products are all grass fed, organic and local.
How does it work?
You shop online. Zero then delivers your groceries in reusable tote bags. Your food is packaged in reusable glass jars, or in compostable containers. Using a closed loop system, Zero will pick up all their reusable packaging with your next order and bring it back to their warehouse.
"Think of us as the new-and-improved milkman.” say the founders.
According to their website, the jars are cleaned through a commercial grade washer, which are then sanitized. This process is similar to any restaurant or packing facility. The reusable grocery bags are washed and sprayed with food-grade sanitizer between customers as well.
Not only does Zero offer its services to conscious consumers, but also to companies.
They will design and sell products for brands that want to develop plastic free packaging.
There are various start-ups now, who are focused on making e-commerce more sustainable by reimagining disposable packaging, delivery conventions and mailing schedules. New closed loop systems are popping up everywhere. Last year we blogged about Loop, a program introduced two years ago at the World Economic Forum, which brings popular products from 70 brands — including Nestle, Unilever, Proctor & Gamble, Clorox, Häagen Dazs and Seventh Generation — to customers’ doorsteps in reusable containers such as glass, aluminum and stainless-steel.
Zero is adding plastic free and fresh sustainable produce shopping to the mix. This is a fantastic development and I am sure many will follow.
This shift to eliminate single-use cardboard and plastic is driven by consumers, who are increasingly concerned about the environmental impacts of single-use packaging and fast shipping. Once again we see the power that we have as consumers. If there's demand, brands will follow. Or in Zero's case, a consumer turned business owner, creating a solution for what they were looking for.
"Be the change you wish to see in the world." - Mahatma Gandhi
*Ad Vitam is not affiliated with Zero or any other brand mentioned in this post.