Excess food packaging is a pain–what’s the point, exactly, of having a plastic wrap inside a plastic tray inside a paper-based container? Tesco, a British grocery store chain, is letting customers ditch packaging right in the store for recycling in an attempt to discover which packaging people can do without.
The system is modeled on one already operating in Germany, where manufacturers and retailers are required to take back their packaging or ensure that 80% of it is collected rather than tossed in the garbage.
Tesco’s trial runs for six weeks from today at stores in Guildford, Surrey, and Illminster, Somerset. I’m guessing, however, that participation will initially be low since shoppers that are not conditioned to throw away packaging in-store probably won’t feel like standing around and rummaging through their groceries after going through the checkout line.
But for Tesco, the shoppers that do take the time to recycle packaging in the store will provide a valuable service. The company has already reduced the weight of its store-branded glass bottles, and customer feedback will help it reduce packaging even more.
Perhaps other brands can take a hint from Tesco. According to a British Government survey, 70% of customers opt to buy products with less packaging. If that isn’t motivation to cut down on paper and plastic wrapping, I don’t know what is.