If grocery stores are looking for alternatives to disposable packaging, these are still more practical and indispensable to guarantee the quality of products.
In recent months, we have seen the emergence of a new trend: stores without packaging. On July 8, 2014, the first grocery store without disposable packaging, called “La Recharge”, opened its doors in Bordeaux and a similar shop was inaugurated in Berlin last September.
Thus, we could easily imagine doing our shopping on Saturday morning in a grocery store “without packaging”. However, given its own limitations, it is unlikely that this concept will generalize or seduce all consumers. Why ?
Firstly, and although it may seem obvious, because packaging allows products to be transported and stored in a safe and functional way, not only to the point of sale but also between the store and the consumer’s home. .
The concept of unpackaged supermarket therefore implies that consumers use their own reusable containers. For shopping, you would have to bring, for example, a box for eggs, one or more empty milk bottles, a box for cereals and so on for all products that the we would like to buy.
This concept fits perfectly in a logic of sustainable development (the main objective of supermarkets without packaging), but it is inconvenient for people who do not want or can not shop as often as this system requires.
Indeed, the purchase of large quantities of products, for several days or even weeks, would require keeping in the houses huge quantities of containers, while the latter are becoming smaller and smaller … At the same time, for reasons transport, online shopping that is growing in popularity would automatically become impossible.
Guarantees the freshness of products
Then, packaging, especially when it comes to food, is essential to preserve the intrinsic qualities of the product. It allows to extend the duration of consumption and thus reduces waste. The packaging protects against shocks, temperature differences to maintain the freshness of the product. It also allows, depending on the product, to protect it from air, light, bacteria and any other element harmful to its own qualities or safety.
Thus, for example, the main reason why bananas are sometimes sold in vacuum packs, despite the fact that the skin could already be considered as a perfect packaging, is that by maturing they emit ethylene gas that can cause ripening unwanted from surrounding products that could be damaged or rot. The environmental impact of a damaged food being much more important, especially because it can no longer be marketed, it seems wise to use a little too much packaging rather than enough.
Informative and communication support
In addition, the packaging clearly plays an informative role on the products it contains: description, weight, quantity, nutritional value of food, date of consumption, place of origin of manufacture, cooking or use, especially. More and more information demanded by consumers from manufacturers, and that the European authorities have subsequently regulated.
On the other hand, in a world where supermarkets do not offer any food packaging, this information would be lost and with it our rights as consumers. Indeed, who remembers the expiry date of a dairy product just two days after buying it? Who can determine if a product contains a component that can cause an allergy if it is not indicated anywhere?
In addition, a lack of packaging would mean for brands the disappearance of a communication space with their customers. Packaging is the perfect place to display your brand and all that it entails: its position, its strengths, its promotions. It is the main lever to differentiate itself from other products and capture the attention of consumers.
All the stated reasons prove the importance of using the packaging. In all these respects, paper is the material with the most obvious benefits for manufacturers, distributors and consumers. It is robust and protects a very large number of products, especially fresh products.
Above all, paper can be made in a responsible way and be totally recycled. Leading paper producers are putting in place responsible production to extend the life cycle of materials and ensure sustainable sourcing.
If we add to this that packaging can be a major asset to avoid food waste, is the idea of supermarkets without packaging still as sustainable and sustainable? Is it appropriate for the majority of consumers and manufacturers or is it finally an illusion? The answer seems self-evident.