New Seasons Market unveiled another response to the crisis in plastics recycling on Wednesday, Oct. 10.
The Portland-based grocer announced new reusable packaging as well as an expansion of its Bag It Forward program. Customers are rewarded with a 5-cent refund for every reusable container they bring into the store for items from the store's deli, coffee bar, produce and bulk goods departments.
"By expanding the Bag It Forward program to include all reusable containers, we hope to reward our customers who bring in reusable jars, storage containers, drink tumblers and produce bags for their shopping, while giving back even more to our local communities," said Athena Petty, New Seasons Market sustainability program manager.
Customers have the option of donating their refunds toone of three local non-profit organizations at each neighborhood store.
New Seasons invested in LifeCycle Analysis software to examine the environmental impacts associated with the full lifecycle of a package, from raw materials extraction and manufacture, through use and disposal.
That informed new sustainability initiatives, including a new partnership with GO Box in August, tracking how many customers are adopting reusable containers and how they're being used.
The grocer also looked at the containers for its own pre-packaged bulk food items. The software showed that mass matters: switching from bulk tubs to zipper bags reduces greenhouse gas emissions by 78 percent, water usage by 80 percent, and human health impacts by 63 percent. As a result, New Seasons is now rolling out new packaging for the company's pre-packaged nuts, trail mixes and dried fruit, in a thinner, food-safe zipper bag rather than a tub.
Starting in April, New Seasons eliminated plastic straws at its stores. That saved 180,000 straws in five months.
For more information: www.newseasonsmarket.com/sustainability; or www.newseasonsmarket.com/bag-it-forward.
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