Zero packaging, zero waste store to open next month
THE island’s first zero-waste store will give customers a new sense of shopping freedom, according to consultant creators Tom Pell and Jeanette Wong.
Opening next month in the Inner Market, The Guernsey Weigh takes inspiration from Mr Pell and Ms Wong’s The Clean Kilo, which is the UK’s largest zero-waste supermarket which opened last year in Digbeth, Birmingham.
‘We were contacted quite out of the blue,’ said Mr Pell.
‘A local couple, Alison and Nick Vine – their son had visited our store while at university and they wanted to have something similar opened up here. Our store in Birmingham had been quite successful so we began researching the potential to establish a store here. We are here to set it up and then we will hand over the reins once opened.
‘Basically we are a store with zero packaging and zero waste. There are paper bags available but we try and encourage the circular economy in every way we can. Customers can bring whatever container they like to put their food in, as long as it is clean and fits on the scales we’ve got no issue.’
Customers can visit the shop with their containers and fill them with as much, or as little, as they want. There are no limitations on quantity.
‘The idea is to cut out all unnecessary wastage,’ said Ms Wong.
‘You can come in and buy whatever suits your needs – if that’s one tomato or four kilos of oats, it doesn’t matter. This allows shoppers the freedom to choose and not waste what they don’t need.
‘Sometimes it can be quite amusing to see the size of some people’s containers, which take a substantial portion of our whole stock, but on the whole people bring sensible containers.’
In terms of cost, the containers are pre-weighed and given a bar code which records their weight.
The weight is then subtracted from the final amount so customers are not charged for the weight of the container – the bar code can then remain on the container and be used again.
To alleviate concerns over hygiene and allergies Mr Pell has an extensive background in chemistry and applies a scientific approach to the cleanliness of the operation.
‘We never mix the nuts, sesame seeds, gluten products – or even leave them in the same area. After every batch – which is a 25kg bag – we will clean the dispenser. I have seen poor practice in other bulk stores and we do everything we can to maintain standards,’ he said.
Despite introducing a shopping model that is new, owners are trying to ensure local produce is sold as much as possible.
‘Sourcing producers can be difficult because for many it is a hobby without commercial interest but we may have discovered a baker and we are currently looking for beekeepers to supply honey,’ said Mr Pell.
The Guernsey Weigh wants to revitalise the Market Building by using the space for its original intention – the selling of produce.
Ms Wong, said: ‘We have heard about the old market and the atmosphere it used to have.
‘We wanted to try and bring some of this back, while moving forward in the 21st century, and we hope Guernsey people are supportive. We have tried to make as much as we can from upcycled items found in the island by visiting online forums and speaking to locals – one of our racks is made from old scaffolding boards. Our ethos is zero-waste, which with the current waste situation we’ve heard about, hopefully we will have come at the right time.’