Wasteful food packaging of all kinds — even shrinkwrap — will be eliminated from the retail shopping experience at a new “concept” grocery store opening in Berlin this summer. Original Unverpackt will offer the ultimate in whole foods, including grains, fruits, and vegetables in bulk bins with even beverages requiring a refillable container from the customer.

"The grocery store doesn’t sell anything that comes in a disposable box, bag, jar, or other container," writes Liz Dwyer at Takepart.

Rather, customers are given the option to buy food without creating as much waste, founders Sara Wolf and Milena Glimbovski explain on their website. The two entrepreneurs raised money for the project through private loans and as well as a crowdfunding effort targeted at the environmentally conscious investor. The $61,000 goal required to begin work on the store was exceeded, doubled to $124,000 by early July.

The socially conscious grocers say that although they’re “not big players in the food industry” they hope to demonstrate to larger food makers that additional environmental savings may be gained from changing retail food shopping; the crowdfunding success alone proves that. Yet although plausible in Berlin, would such a concept flourish among American shoppers in love with paper and plastic? Or would such novelty be relegated to the hipsters of New York, the hippies of Vermont?

The Original Unverpackt entrepreneurs express optimism that their idea, if not business, will spread to the wider world. This generation has “littered the world,” Wolf and Glimbovski say. So maybe the next cohort  — Germans and Americans alike — will choose a different model. This new enlightened cohort of humans will bring reusable bags and bottles, exchanging a small convenience for a greater good.

From Retail To Wholesale

However, re-designs of food packaging earlier in the supply chain will also help to minimize food waste, according to research from RMIT in Australia that was commissioned by CHEP Australia, a maker of pallets and other packaging materials.

"Food security is an emerging challenge for both policy makers and companies in the fresh and manufactured food supply chains, however no significant research had previously been conducted into the role that packaging plays in minimising food waste in Australia,” wrote senior study leader Karli Verghese in a statement. "Food security is an emerging challenge for both policy makers and companies in the fresh and manufactured food supply chains, however no significant research had previously been conducted into the role that packaging plays in minimising food waste in Australia," he said.

"Packaging actually plays a critical role in protecting fresh produce and processed food in transit, in storage, at point of sale and prior to consumption. In doing so it helps deliver a wide range of functions while reducing food waste."

Below is a German-language video on Orignal Unverpackt.