Birmingham is set to have its very own ‘zero waste’ supermarket next year, as the conversation surrounding single-use plastics and packaging begins to gain momentum.
The Clean Kilo will be a shop where virtually no plastic packaging exists and where customers can bring their own reusable containers to fill with the products on sale. Customers will be able to buy food, drink, toiletries and cleaning products by weight. All products will be dispensed into either containers bought from home, or through reusable containers available from the supermarket – such as paper bags.
Tom Pell, a PhD chemist, recently came back to the UK after studying in Melbourne, Australia. He found many shops in Australia have adopted a ‘zero-waste’ policy on plastics. Rather than take the traditional route into the ‘green’ industry through bio-fuels. He then decided to take measures into his own hands through ‘The Clean Kilo’ – and make a positive impact upon the local community.
“As humans we thrive on convenience; the pre-made sandwich from the supermarket, singly-wrapped snacks or bottled water” he said.
“We’ve lived with this convenience since plastic became a mainstream commodity, but now it’s taking its toll on the planet. Every year between 4.8 and 12.7 million tonnes of plastic enters our ocean – that’s the equivalent of two bin lorries full every minute!”
‘The Clean Kilo’ comes at a particular juncture in the UK’s ‘green history’. The Government is considering a tax on single-use plastics such as takeaway boxes and other packaging, in a bid to reduce waste.
Around eight million tons of plastic makes its way into oceans each year, where it gets eaten by fish or birds. More than a million sea birds and 100,000 sea mammals die annually from getting caught in or swallowing the waste.
In July, the Environment Department announced that nine billion fewer plastic bags have been used since the Government introduced the 5p charge.
Tom welcomed the government’s approach to combating plastic use. “I am eager to see how the government will respond to our plastic crisis. It is crucial to reduce our plastic consumption as not only will consumers be saving money from packaging (since almost a fifth of our shopping bill goes towards packaging), but ‘The Clean Kilo’ will also be able to help those who struggle to afford putting a decent meal on the table”.
He added: “A zero-waste supermarket will allow customers to buy in small quantities. Enough pasta or rice for one meal means they can afford to buy other cupboard ingredients as well.”
‘The Clean Kilo’ will also be looking to educate the wider Birmingham area about sustainability by organizing documentary nights and inviting keynote speakers to put on workshops around plastic waste and other environmental issues.
‘The Clean Kilo’ will be releasing a crowd funding campaign on Monday 4th December as part of funding the revenues of the store. There is also a newsletter which environmentalists and concerned individuals can sign up to to learn more about the supermarket and their progress at www.thecleankilo.co.uk.