Global retail design trends – Germany opens first waste-free supermarket

23rd June 2014

This week we’re taking a look at more global retail design trends with a look at Germany’s first waste free supermarket. Of course the Germans are famous for their interest in sustainability and renewable energy policies and now their supermarkets are getting in on the act with Original Unverpackt – Germany’s first packaging-free supermarket.

The Original Unverpackt store in Germany

The Original Unverpackt (translation = “unpacked”) store will open it’s doors in Berlin’s Friedrichshain Kreuzberg district later this summer, selling fresh local food (to reduce transportation costs and environmental impact from pollution), organic goods and regular low-cost groceries including non-food products such as cosmetics and cleaning products. Instead of buying pre-packed plastic wrapped food and groceries, shoppers to this store will be encouraged to bring their own containers and buy in bulk from ‘gravity bins’ which dispense products at the pull of a lever. For customers who have forgotten to bring their container or who have popped in on the spur of the moment, reusable containers can be borrowed from the store.

Products are dispensed from gravity bins

The project is the brainchild of Sara Wolf and Miena Glimbovski who, were increasingly disenchanted with the amount of plastic packaging that was wrapped around their purchases each time that they shopped at the supermarket – some of which could not be recycled and would ultimately end up in landfill. Encouraged by their idea, the pair dropped out of university and started their plan to create a store which dispensed with the need for packaging altogether. Funding for the project was sourced via a very popular crowdfunding campaign and it has taken two years to develop from idea to implementation. The pair of entrepreneurs are just making the finishing touches to the flagship store and are almost ready to open what they hope will be a revolution in clean, environmentally friendly shopping.

The Original Unverpackt opens it's doors this summer

Every step of the supply chain is directed by the team’s “Zero Waste” philosophy which is focused on reducing consumption of valuable resources such as ¬†water and oil, and attempting to make a positive impact to reduce the 16 million tonnes of waste packaging that Germany produces each year, by leading the way to greener practices.

The success of Original Unverpackt’s the crowdfunding appeal, which received more than double their target donation is a clear indication that many share the pair’s vision for reducing waste and making non-recyclable, disposable packaging a thing of the past. Now we can only wait to see how it is received and whether it will lead the way for more stores in Germany or catch on in the rest of the world.

The (German language) pitch video for Original Unverpackt:


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