Singapore’s first zero-waste grocery store is opening

UnPackt will encourage Singaporeans to bring their own containers in a convenience-obsessed country that produced 800 million kg of plastic waste last year, most of which was packaging.

Unpackt, Singapore's first zero-waste grocery store
Unpackt, Singapore's first zero-waste grocery store, will encourage shoppers to bring their own containers. Image: Unpackt

The first zero-waste grocery store is launching in Singapore.

Called UnPackt, the store’s goods will be sold without any packaging and customers will be encouraged to bring their own containers.

Dispensed in self-serve gravity bins to reduce food waste, dried food and cleaning supplies are to go on sale first, with plans to introduce fresh fruit and vegetables once sales volumes pick up. Goods will be priced lower than regular high street items, since they are packaging-free.

The store is running a recycling scheme where cleaned containers can be donated and used by customers who visit the store without their own. Customers can also buy reusable containers at the store.

Co-founded by former business executives Florence Tay and Jeff Lam, UnPackt is a social enterprise that aims to spread the zero waste message and make packaging-free shopping more accessible in Singapore. 

The store will hire staff from two of Singapore’s most disadvantaged groups, seniors and single parents.

The idea for the store came while Tay was exploring how she could reduce her plastic footprint by shopping packaging-free, and Lam was looking at how to buy food in small quantities to reduce food waste.

We think that Singaporeans care enough about waste and plastic pollution to visit our store,” Tay told Eco-Business, adding that an survey she had conducted earlier this month had given her confidence that shoppers in the convenience-obsessed city-state will support a zero-waste store.

We think that Singaporeans care enough about waste and plastic pollution to visit our store.

Florence Tay, co-founder, Unpackt

Unpackt is to open in the first week of May and is located on Jalan Kuras, in the commuter district of Ang Mo Kio.

An online version of Unpackt is to be introduced at a later date, but Tay would not reveal how the company plans to deliver goods without any packaging.

The launch of Unpackt comes at a time when Singapore’s waste footprint has started to creep into the mainstream consumer consciousness. Singaporeans consume at a rate that would require four Earths to support them, get through an average of 13 plastic bags a day per person, and last year produced more than 800 million kg of plastic waste—only six per cent of which was recycled.

An opinion editorial co-signed by 10 civic society groups and published on Earth Day, called on Singapore consumers to curb their plastic use, and for businesses to be held accountable for the plastic they produce, the bulk of which is packaging. 

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