Going plastic-free: The rise of zero-waste shops

5th January 2019 | Recycling

Packaging-free refill shops are on the rise in Wales as the backlash against plastic gathers pace. Last year saw “zero waste” shops open in Crickhowell in Powys, Tenby in Pembrokeshire and in Cardiff. “It’s a more modern way of doing an older thing,” Sophie Rae, founder of Cardiff-based Ripple said.

Customers bring their own containers from home to the stores and weight the goods they want to buy – minus the weight of the packaging. “It makes zero-waste shopping cost effective,” said Ms Rae.


In addition, they can buy much smaller quantities – for example when cooking to a recipe – which helps reduce food waste. “People come in a buy 10 grams of something because you can in our shop,” said Cathy Butler who runs The Little Pantry with her husband and their two sons in Tenby. “A teaspoon of something costs hardly anything and you are not throwing anything away.” The shops sell a variety of dried bulk foods as well as natural beauty products and cleaning supplies which can be bought using a refill station.

Some also offer fresh fruit and vegetables – often organic – while others encourage customers to shop plastic-free at local greengrocers. Robin Masefield who runs Natural Weigh in Crickhowell admits organic produce is more expensive but claims his shop is on average cheaper than the major supermarkets. “The cost of packaging plays a part,” he says, “and supermarkets also charge a premium for organic.”

Recent analysis of recycling rates around the world suggests Wales is currently best in the UK, second in Europe and third in the world. The Welsh Government is aiming for Wales to be recycling, reusing or composting 70% of its waste by 2025 and be a zero waste nation by 2050, with all waste to be reused or recycled and no landfill or traditional incineration.

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