Germany's first waste-free supermarket about to open its doors
By Nick Lavars
June 3, 2014
When it comes to sustainability, you might know Germany best for its renewable energy ambitions and efforts to reduce carbon pollution. While these initiatives have been largely driven by government and researchers, a team of budding entrepreneurs is looking to get in on the action, too. Aiming to open this (northern summer), Original Unverpackt will be Germany's first package-free supermarket.
The start-up is led by Sara Wolf and Miena Glimbovski who, after becoming disillusioned with the amount of plastic involved in big supermarket shopping, dropped out of university and set about removing it from the experience altogether. The project has been in the works for around two years, and with a hugely successful crowdfunding campaign soon drawing to a close, the team is preparing to fling open the doors on what it hopes will be a clean shopping revolution.
To be located in Berlin's Friedrichshain Kreuzberg district, Original Unverpackt will sell food largely sourced from local suppliers as a means of reducing transportation costs and pollution. The products are then sold in bulk using gravity bins (upside-down containers with a lever where the user can decide exactly how much they need). Customers will bring their own containers to take the produce away, borrow reusable containers from the store or use bags made from recycled paper.
On offer will be organic goods, conventional, lower cost items and also non-food cleaning and cosmetic products. Every step of the supply chain is guided by the team's "Zero Waste" philosophy. This focuses on reducing the consumption of resources like water and oil, and chipping away at the 16 million tons of waste packaging that the company says is produced by Germany each year.
The team originally set out to raise €45,000 (around US$61,000) via the Startnext platform for its package-free supermarket. As of this writing, it has yielded more than double that with about another two weeks to run, indicating that many share the company's vision of making disposable packaging a thing of the past.
The (German language) pitch video can be viewed below.