Dutch retailer Albert Heijn is launching a new shopping concept – AH Packaging Free – which will allow customers to do some of their shopping more sustainably.
The retailer is asking customers to use a reusable bag or jar for dry goods, such as muesli, pasta, spreads, tea, and nuts from dispensers in-store, using a lot less disposable packaging.
This move fits in with the chain's ambition to reduce packaging by 20 million kilograms by 2025.
Albert Heijn Packaging-Free Range
The packaging-free range consists of seventy products, from breakfast cereals and spreads to ingredients for dinner, such as pasta and rice.
About 80% of the assortment (55 products) is organic, including a number of special products such as Fonio, an African grain, and organic coffee beans.
The Albert Heijn XL in Rotterdam is the first store to implement the new concept.
Customers will soon be able to shop without packaging in the XL on Gelderlandplein in Amsterdam and the XL in Leidschendam, followed by another fifty stores in the coming year.
For the concept rollout, Albert Heijn is working with SUPZero, an organisation that guides companies in the transition to waste-free concepts.
Marit van Egmond, CEO Albert Heijn, said, "We encourage a healthy lifestyle and want to leave the earth a better place. We do the latter, for example, by continuously checking whether we can use less packaging material.
"The great thing about this concept is that customers can simply take products with them in their own reusable packaging, time after time. You can also grab exactly the amount you need. In this way, together we ensure less waste and less wastage."
The new concept offers six metres of smart dispensers filled with the packaging-free range.
Customers can fill their own reusable packaging from the dispensers, or buy a reusable jar or bag on the spot.
Customers first weigh the packaging without the product, then they fill it with one of the seventy products, before printing a label with which they pay at the checkout.
In order to make shoppers enthusiastic about packaging-free shopping, tags are displayed on packaged products in the store such as nuts and rice to remind customers that these products are also available without packaging.
Elisah Pals, founder of Zero Waste Netherlands, said, "We have to move away from the throw-away society. Separating waste at home is great, avoiding it when shopping is even better. That is a direct environmental benefit. I hope that we will soon be able to do packaging-free shopping in more stores."