Beverley Mitchell

Original Unverpackt: Germany's First Zero-Waste Supermarket to Open this Summer

by , 06/02/14

Germany is set to unveil the country’s very first zero-waste supermarket. Berlin’s Original Unverpackt is the brainchild of friends Sara Wolf and Milena Glimbovski. Frustrated by the overpackaging and wastefulness they saw in the retail food industry, the young women decided to take action and launched a crowdfunding campaign in early May that has succeeded beyond all expectations. They now have the funds to open their first outlet this summer, with a second to follow soon after.


The concept of the store is simple: all food is provided in bulk and customers bring their own containers. If you forget your containers, you can borrow multi-use ones from the store, or make use of recycled paper bags. While the concept is familiar to food co-ops, Original Unverpackt will be on a larger scale and will provide absolutely no single use packaging or pre-packaged goods.

The team have been carefully sourcing stock as they prepare to open and their philosophy remains simple too. As they say, “You won’t find countless brands for each product because one, the right one, is enough.”

Where possible, produce will be sourced locally to reduce food miles, and both organic and less-expensive conventional products will be on offer as well “Everyone should be able to afford to help the environment in the way they can,” the duo adds.

Related: Fruta Feia Saves a Whopping 21 Tons of ‘Ugly’ Produce from Going to Waste in Portugal

Dry goods will be dispensed from gravity bins, allowing shoppers to customize their purchase and avoid wasting food at home caused by buying more than they really need.

The women aim to provide a real alternative to Germany’s larger supermarket chains and plan to expand the number of outlets as finances allow. With a crowdsourcing campaign that has already more than doubled their €45,000 goal, they are well on their way to making a difference to the 16 million tons of packaging waste produced each year in Germany alone. While the biggest battle now will be getting customers to remember their containers, similar concepts elsewhere show it can be done.

+ Original Unverpackt

Via takepart and Startnext.de

Photos by Original Unverpakt

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5 Comments

  1. Old Pete Roberts June 4, 2014 at 7:33 am

    What a refreshing and wonderful concept. More power to you! Check out Riverford Farm supplies in UK. They adopt a similar idea and deliver to their customers’ doors, fresh goods WITHOUT unnecessary packaging and contained in reusable boxes.

  2. Kerstin Cartuyvels June 3, 2014 at 8:12 pm

    Tafline Laylin-it says you bring your own containers. If you forget them you can borrow multi-use ones from their store or use recycled paper bags. Think Aldi-they don’t provide bags either.

  3. Tafline Laylin Tafline Laylin June 3, 2014 at 11:06 am

    But how to people carry their goods home? Do they use plastic bags? Or do they bring their own containers?

  4. Octavio J. June 2, 2014 at 11:35 pm

    I would like to encourage you to visit the markets here in Ecuador. They ALL sell in bulk. There are even Supermarkets selling in bulk already. Other Supermarkets give you green coins for bringing your own containers. You deposit these coins in paper containers at the supermarket. They later donate money to environmental projects in the country, equivalent to the amount of coins gathered each month. So you see, this concept is not really “original” ;) It´s just funny: When people do things like this in first world countries it´s a great NEW idea. When “poor” countries do it, it´s just sad and not even worth mentioning it, pffff

  5. Rod Averbuch June 2, 2014 at 11:40 am

    The large amount of food waste is a lose-lose situation for the environment, the struggling families in today’s tough economy and for the food retailers. There is no single cure, or silver bullet for food waste reduction therefore, we should address the food waste problem in every link in our food supply chain. For example, the excess inventory of perishables close to their expiration on supermarket shelves, combined with the consumer “Last In First Out” shopping behavior, might be the weakest link of the fresh food supply chain.
    The new open GS1 DataBar standard enables applications that encourage efficient consumer shopping by offering him automatic and dynamic purchasing incentives for perishables approaching their expiration dates before they end up in a landfill.
    The “End Grocery Waste” App, which is based on the open GS1 DataBar standard, encourages efficient consumer shopping behavior that maximizes grocery retailer revenue, makes fresh food affordable for all families and effectively reduces the global carbon footprint. You can look this application up at EndGroceryWaste.com

    Rod Averbuch
    Chicago, IL

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