A Scottish supermarket has launched a new way to make your shopping experience plastic-free, by swapping out plastic milk cartons for a fresh milk vending machine.
While eco-friendly food shopping has recently focussed on cutting single-use bags and plastic-free packaging, customers of Glasgow-based Locavore can now buy milk bottles in-store which can be refilled again and again.
The move is reported to save more than 100 plastic containers a day – or more than 36,000 a year.
Locavore, which has been has been running since 2015, recently opened its new site after receiving local government support from Zero Waste Scotland. It also offers fresh, package-free bread, eco-friendly household cleaning products and dispensable jars of grains, herbs and spices.
For Reuben Chesters, managing director of Locavore, the milk vending machine symbolises a more ethical, environmentally friendly way to shop and run a supermarket.
“The machine is a great example of how farmers and independent retailers can work together. With our direct relationship with [local] Mossgiel farm we can offer tastier organic milk to people at a price that is better than the supermarkets, and we can do this do this while paying the farmer more than double what supermarkets do,” he told HuffPost UK. “[Other] supermarkets can’t compete with this as they neither have close, mutually trusting links with producers or the ethics to operate in a way that is better for our environment, local economy and communities.”
Rosie Cotgreave, plastic-free campaigner at Friends of the Earth, told HuffPost UK that these kind of ‘refill schemes’ need to be implemented across the country to really fight plastic pollution. “Using reusable, refillable containers is a great way to reduce the need for more plastic packaging to be produced,” she said. “Older generations will speak fondly about keeping bottles and jars to be re-used, and it’s now apparent that this is something we must embrace once again.”
The last year has seen plastic-free food shopping options dramatically rise, including the success of zero-waste supermarket pop-up Bulk Market in London and the opening of the world’s first plastic-free supermarket aisle in Amsterdam.
Mainstream supermarkets have also made a number of plastic-free moves: Iceland has introduced a reverse vending machine as part of its support for a plastic-recycling bottle deposit scheme, as well as a plastic-free packaging label to make eco-friendly shopping easier for customers. Morrisons has also invited customers to bring their own plastic food container to its meat and fresh fish counters in order to cut down on single-use plastic packaging.