Zero Waste Community Food Store
Every year we throw away one third of the food produced in the world, which equals 1.3 billion tonnes of food waste. This clearly indicates that something is fundamentally wrong with the current food system. We suggest a disruptive alternative to food shopping; a “zero waste community food store”. A concept that will not only reduce food and packaging waste, but also serves as a community hub, facilitating a circular economy between producers and information, education and awareness on sustainability to the community.
1.3 billion tons of food is wasted each year on a global level – occupying almost 1.4 billion hectares of land. The carbon footprint of this waste is around 3.3 G tonnes of CO2 equivalent.
By far, the majority of food waste happens in the developed countries at retail and consumer level, which contributes to more than 40 % of the food waste.
Modern food retail generates significant volumes of food waste, compounded by the large volume of packaging material used in its distribution.
The UK alone produces more than 170m tonnes of waste every year, of which much is food packaging.
A 2016 EU paper on the Causes and Determinants of Consumers Food Waste signaled the main drivers as the lack of motivation and knowledge to prevent waste (individual context) and the social and societal barriers to prevent waste (situational context).
Therefore, it is critical that we rethink how we purchase food – and provide a solution that simultaneously considers both of these contexts.
From insights we asked the following question: How might we offer a sustainable method for food purchasing in developed countries to help reduce food and packaging waste at the retail and consumer level?
Our solution is a zero waste community food store concept that reduces food and packaging waste at retail and consumer levels.
Our solution is based on 4 key elements designed to make use of food sector innovations and community collaboration:
1. Community hub: This store is a community hub designed to create awareness on sustainability in the agricultural chain, through consumer and farmer interaction, and by transparency on the eco-footprint of all products.
2. Local & in-store produce: Stock is sourced directly from local suppliers, using vertical farms vegetables are produced in store, in order to minimize transportation and food loss in the supply chain.
3. Bulk model paired with reusable packaging: The bulk model allows consumers to purchase only what is needed. Using reusable packaging material, packaging waste is reduced.
4. Connecting local producers: By facilitating circular thinking, local suppliers are encouraged to trade bi-products, e.g. exchange of spent grain from beer brewery to the farmer.
Our solution rethinks the traditional food store concept – moving from a transactional customer/retailer relationship to an educational and community-driven experience.
Amongst others, our concept is unique in three ways:
1. Education facilitator
We merge existing technological advances in sustainable grocery practice with a unique focus on education – addressing both individual and societal contexts outlined as the main drivers for preventing grocery waste in in the EU’s 2016 paper: Causes and Determinants of Consumers Food Waste.
2. Community hub
Our store is built to be an integrated part of the community in which it is located – bringing together a communities producers with consumers.
3. Promoting circular practice and thinking
Through using reusable packaging and offering a waste returns system – we become an enabler for consumers to action a circular economy. In addition, on-site growing and production methods will promote direct interaction between food consumers and food producers – creating a platform for public education on food waste issues.
The innovation outlined above is key to ensure that we create a consumer pull in a saturated market.
The impact of the zero waste community food store is three-fold:
1. It reduces food waste at the retail and consumer level; Buying from bulk allows consumers to avoid waste caused from buying overly large portions; sourcing local products reduces transport and distribution output; in store vertical farming minimizes food loss during transportation
2. Educates consumers on sustainable food production methods by emphasizing circular economy principles and allowing consumers to interact with vertical in-store farm.
3. Based on studies from the EU and US each inhabitant creates approximately 73 kg of food packaging waste. By selling from bulk, consumers are able to bring reusable packaging and can participate in a waste return system to minimize waste.
SDG12: By 2030 halve food waste at the retail and consumer levels. By 2030, substantially reduce waste generation through prevention, reduction, recycling and reuse.
SDG2: By 2030, double the agricultural productivity and incomes of small-scale food producers
SDG11: Support positive economic, social and environmental links between urban, peri-urban and rural areas.