Glasgow ‘ethical retailer’ leads fight against plastic packaging

The fight to tackle plastic waste is firmly on the political agenda thanks to Blue Planet II.

But while UK supermarkets and businesses have pledged to cut down on wrapping and waste by 2025, there is little evidence of immediate change.

In Scotland, however, one Glasgow-based “ethical retailer” is being hailed as an innovator in the war on single-use plastic.

Locavore in the city’s south side has recently opened expanded new premises. The store offers a range of products with reduced plastic packaging thanks in large part to recent government support.

Funding to the tune of £100,000 has allowed Locavore to develop new methods of supply and dispensing to drastically reduce packaging.

And so far, the ‘supermarket’ says it has been overwhelmed by the public response to what it has to offer. Household cleaners and health and beauty products are available in refill.

Pulses, grains, herbs and spices are served in dispensers, and there are refills for oils and vinegars.

Bread also comes unwrapped and ready for the basket. But the pièce de résistance is a milk vending machine that does away with plastic cartons.

Customers can buy refillable glass bottles, insert a token and take milk fresh from the churn. That one piece of equipment alone is saving more than 100 plastic containers a day – or more than 36,000 a year.

Reuben Chesters is the managing director of Scotland’s first social enterprise supermarket. Mr Chesters said: “We’ve found the alternative model we’ve tried out here to be more popular than expected.

“Since opening (our new store) we’ve had three times as many people coming through the door and filling up on organic and reduced-packaging products.

“One of the priorities for the store is reducing single-use plastics which are unnecessary and which are hard to recycle and break down very slowly in the environment.

“By removing that and by removing the cost of the packaging and the time it takes to package, we can give people better food at a better price – without the waste.”

Customers, who were already taken with the store’s pursuit of ethical and organic products, now welcome its push on waste.

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