World first: Plastic-free supermarket aisle opens in Amsterdam


01 Mar 2018 --- Organic supermarket chain, Ekoplaza, has opened the world’s first plastic-free aisle in its Amsterdam store in what is seen as a major victory for the international A Plastic Planet campaign. Plans are ahead to roll-out further plastic-free aisles across all of Ekoplaza’s 74 branches by the end of 2018, including a new store in The Hague, which is set to open later this year.

The aisle offers more than 700 plastic-free products including a range of meat, dairy, confectionery and fruit & vegetable items. Prices are not expected to rise, with plastic packaging replaced by scalable and convenient biodegradable packaging. 

WorldPackagingOnline spoke exclusively to Ekoplaza Chief Executive, Erik Does, on the day of the launch about what it means to open the world’s first plastic-free supermarket aisle. “It’s been a journey for many years now, it’s not a marketing trick, it’s a challenge and it’s about making choices. For meat, we just found the solution to plastic-free packaging two months ago, and for other products, we have had good solutions for some years now.”

Click to Enlarge
Ekoplaza Chief Executive, Erik Does:
“It’s been a journey for many years now,
it’s not a marketing trick, it’s a challenge
and it’s about making choices.”

“I do believe that we will be able to have a plastic-free society sooner than we think. I think it’s more a question of: are we willing to do it, are we willing to change and are we ready for change? As a company we are ready, and we are willing, and a lot of suppliers are also willing, and as a citizen, a healthy planet is what the world wants.” 

A Plastic Planet has been working for 12 months to encourage supermarkets to offer plastic-free products amid global concerns about growing plastic pollution. According to Innova Market Insights data, 58 percent of globally launched food and beverage products are packaged in plastic, a 5 percent increase from 2013, while 96 percent of all newly launched water products in 2017 are packaged in PET bottles. And according to the Earth Institute at Columbia University, only 9.5 percent of plastic is recycled and there are already 165 million tons of plastic debris in our oceans. 

Co-founder of A Plastic Planet, Sian Sutherland, said that this news represented “a landmark moment for the global fight against plastic pollution.”

“For decades, shoppers have been sold the lie that we can’t live without plastic in food and drink. A plastic-free aisle dispels all that. Finally, we can see a future where the public have a choice about whether to buy plastic or plastic-free. Right now we have no choice.”

“There is absolutely no logic in wrapping something as fleeting as food in something as indestructible as plastic. Plastic food and drink packaging remains useful for a matter of days yet remains a destructive presence on the Earth for centuries afterwards.”

Ekoplaza also uses eco-friendly alternatives to plastic in the secondary packaging of its plastic-free products. The company uses mainly Dutch suppliers such as Do-It – a large importer of rice and wheat – who provide cartons without plastic tape. “They deliver us products that look like plastic but are 100 percent decomposable,” says Does, who is also concerned by reducing food waste, an issue often associated with decreased packaging. “As an organic company we’d like to have our products as close as possible in terms of the supply chain.”

“We tell them what we need and they produce what we will buy and then you have a large part to the solution of food waste already tackled. It’s the point of taking responsibility, so it’s the complete strategic ambition of the company to provide products the way the consumer expects them to be.” 

Despite widespread movements to tackle plastic pollution by eradicating its use, there is a counter-view within the industry that plastic can play a positive role in the environmental future of the planet due to its recyclability potential. Melinda de Boer, a spokesperson for Amcor, one of the biggest global suppliers of plastic, spoke to WorldPackagingOnline about this issue: “Plastic packaging is light and typically excels in resource efficiency and environmental footprint compared with glass jars or metal cans.”

“With all packaging formats, the industry-wide aim is to increase collection, recovery and recycling, and that's the purpose of collaborative efforts such as the Ellen MacArthur Foundation's New Plastic Economy initiative.”

Whether the answer to plastic pollution can be found in the discontinuation of its use as a packaging material, or in the adoption of a full-scale recycling model, is an ongoing industry debate. News of the world’s first plastic-free aisle – a collaboration between environmental campaigners, a supermarket chain, and suppliers – does, however, suggest that the consumer demand for more environmentally-friendly products is growing. 

By Joshua Poole

This feature is provided by FoodIngredientsFirst's sister website, PackagingInsights.

To contact our editorial team please email us at

Related Articles

Food Ingredients News

Plant-based protein growth: Hydrosol’s new stabilizing systems for dairy alternatives

24 Sep 2018 --- Hydrosol is tapping in the growing demand for plant-based proteins with its new stabilizing and texturing systems for a wide spectrum of dairy alternatives that give them properties very close to products made from cow’s milk. These include cultured desserts that contain no milk components, soy or gluten.

Business News

Polyol ambitions: Sunar Misir invests in sorbitol and maltitol capacity

24 Sep 2018 --- Sunar Misir plans to reach an installed capacity of 100,000 tons for its sorbitol and maltitol facility in Adana (Turkey) by the end of 2019. Sunar Mısır has over 33 years of experience with corn-based ingredients and offers sustainably-sourced, Non-GMO starches and starch derivatives for the global market.

Food Ingredients News

Water lentils: Parabel’s tiny plants with huge potential, LENTEIN’s disruptive promise

24 Sep 2018 --- There is much debate in the food industry that centers on the challenge that a fast-growing global population, that is expected to hit 10 billion by 2050, presents. How will we feed everyone? How will climate change impact on agriculture? What crops and food commodities are the most sustainable? These are some of the big questions that the food industry is currently facing. And water lentils, an innovative protein source, is one of the newest and exciting plant proteins that could hold the answer, according to Parabel USA.

Food Ingredients News

Weekly Roundup: Nestlé sells Gerber Life Insurance, Givaudan completes Naturex acquisition

21 Sep 2018 --- In business news this week, Nestlé announced plans to sell Gerber Life Insurance Company, to Western & Southern Financial Group for US$1.55 billion in cash. Bösch Boden Spies launched a sustainability initiative and Givaudan completed the acquisition of Naturex, following the implementation of the squeeze-out procedure and the delisting of Naturex shares from the Euronext Paris stock exchange. Firmenich appointed Emmanuel Butstraen as president of its Flavors Business Unit and member of the company’s executive committee and Tyson Foods’ CEO Tom Hayes is stepping down.

Food Ingredients News

Kerry opens first plant in Moscow, focusing on meat processing and snacks

20 Sep 2018 --- Taste & Nutrition company, Kerry, has opened its first plant in Russia, in the Istra district of Moscow. Production will begin immediately with ingredients for the meat processing and snacks market.

More Articles