Erik Does, CEO of Dutch retailer Ekoplaza, asked attendees at last month’s Sustainable Foods Summit in Amsterdam to pose themselves a simple question: “In an age when we can buy gluten-free, dairy-free, nut-free, why can we not buy plastic-free?”
Does and Ekoplaza have been behind efforts to address this bizarre omission, working with campaign group A Plastic Planet earlier this year to launch the world’s first Plastic Free Aisle in an Amsterdam branch of supermarket.
“The awareness raised by the plastic-free aisle was perhaps the most important effect,” he concluded. “We showed what’s possible. You can change today if you want. We must break free of plastic. Consumers want this now, and we need all the solutions available to reduce plastic waste.”
The next step in spreading the anti-plastic message involves the Mobe-Aisle, a mobile supermarket-in-a-lorry stocked exclusively with plastic-free food and drink products from Ekoplaza, around 300 in total.
Every product bears the Plastic Free Trust Mark, a new front-of-pack certification created by A Plastic Planet.
The Mobe-Aisle was launched this week at a landmark global ocean summit in The Hague, and will travel across European cities showcasing packaging alternatives using pulpboard, fibre, cotton, card, paper, glass, metal and other biomaterials.
The Ocean Summit marks the finishing line of the Volvo Ocean Race, a contest between the world’s best sailors across 45,000 nautical miles, four oceans and six continents.
The summit brings together leading figures from the worlds of sport, science, government and campaigning to discuss ways to protect oceans from plastic in the future.
According to Sian Sutherland, co-founder of A Plastic Planet, Plastic Free Aisles are important because they enable consumers to become part of the plastic solution. “The Plastic Free Aisle is a symbol for change,” she said. “Without choice, we cannot change. “The Volvo Ocean Race is a celebration of what humans can do when presented with insurmountable difficulty. We must be inspired by these extraordinary sailors to combat this plastic madness we have created over recent years.”
“Plastic Free Aisles are the accelerator we need to innovate faster in finding alternatives to plastic,” said Does. “They have inspired our customers to eliminate plastic from their weekly food shop. We are proud to be working to create a truly plastic-free future for food and drink retail.”
Earlier this year, Ekoplaza rolled out 1,370 plastic-free products in its 74 Dutch stores. The retailer is aiming for 75 per cent of its own-brand products to be plastic-free by the end of the year.