Berlin is about to get an innovative supermarket that does not include any wasteful packaging. Original Unverpackt (Original Unpacked) is the brainchild of Sara Wolf and Milena Glimbovski, who grew tired of purchasing food that came in an absurd amount of disposable packaging. They aren’t veterans of the food industry; they’re just two gals who dropped out of their college studies to make a difference.
Even when you bring your own reusable shopping bags, your groceries come with a ton of packaging. Original Unverpackt (OU) will have no disposable packaging whatsoever. Bulk items like beans, pasta, and cereal are dispensed from gravity storage units. Rather than using the same scoop that who-knows-how-many people have used before you to get food from bins, OU shoppers will press a handle and allow the desired amount of food to fall right into your personal storage container brought from home. Customers do not touch the food supply at all, avoiding cross-contamination.
This store will not be limited to bulk items; they will also be selling a range of produce, meat, dairy products, and non-food products like shampoo and cleaning products. If you forget to bring your own containers or decide once you have arrived that you really need some lentils, reusable containers will be available to purchase at the store, and recycled paper bags can also be given out.
The duo hope to locally source as much food as possible in order to cut on the amount of fuel costs in order to deliver food to the store in reusable containers. Additionally, allowing customers to purchase the exact amount of food they need (rather than a packaged amount) will result in less food waste.
Most of the capital behind this venture has come from private investors, though there was a very successful crowdfunding campaign back in May. The campaign brought in €108,900, far surpassing the original goal of €45,000. Investors from all over the world have already sought franchise options, and OU hasn’t even opened their doors yet.
While this is a new idea for Germany, similar-style ideas have been tried elsewhere, with not great results. Unpackaged in London is currently closed after five years, though they do have hopes to reopen in a new location. Austin’s in.gredients has refocused to “zero waste” instead of “package free.” While these two stores focused hard on organic goods, OU will also offer conventional produce, which is more affordable and will attract more customers.