How to solve the plastic packaging paradox

Depending on how much of the heavier, recyclable packaging would in practice be recycled, you might find that the lighter, non-recyclable packaging actually generates less waste.

And once you start looking into plastic packaging, this kind of counterintuitive conclusion comes up all the time.

Some packaging is a foolish waste.

But are shrink-wrapped cucumbers really so silly if it means they stay fresh for 14 days rather than three?

Which is worse 1.5g (0.05oz) of plastic wrap or entire cucumbers going off before being eaten? Suddenly it’s not so obvious.

Plastic bags stop bananas going brown so quickly, or new potatoes going green; they catch grapes that fall off bunches.

About a decade ago, one UK supermarket experimented with taking all its fruit and vegetables out of their packaging – and its food wastage rate doubled.

According to a UK government report, only 3% of food is wasted before it gets to shops.

In developing countries, that figure can be 50% – and that difference is partly due to how the food is packaged.

Can Zero-Waste Grocery Stores Make a Difference?

A growing trend in food shopping eliminates single-use plastic packaging. Here’s how it works—even when you forget to bring your own bag

BRIANNE MILLER was miles from shore when she realized she had to start a grocery store. As a marine biologist studying humpback whale habitats near Hawaii, she saw plastic wherever she looked: abandoned fishery nets, bottles, plastic crates.

In 2018, at age 30, she opened Nada, a zero-waste grocery store in Vancouver, B.C. It offers 750-plus products without a lick of packaging. No plastic around that cucumber. Toothpaste in glass jars. Herbs do not come pre-portioned in a plastic container. Customers take a sprig or two, exactly what they need.