Will online delivery go more eco-friendly post-pandemic?
One indication of the surge in e-commerce due to the pandemic has been the sight of delivery boxes overflowing homes and recycling bins. Zero Grocery, which claims to be the first online zero-waste grocer, is joining the ranks of those trying to encourage customers to avoid the packaging waste.
The Berkeley-based startup delivers vegetables and name-brand packaged goods — like cereals and yogurt — in jars, boxes and other sustainable packaging “at wholesale sizes and prices” to keep prices to members competitive.
Zero Grocery customers leave the jars and other eco-friendly containers outside for the next delivery person to pick up when dropping off a new order, according to Fast Company. Membership, which costs $25 per month, provides access to 1,100-plus items (as well as meat and fish in compostable wrappers).
In announcing a funding round in late September, founder Zuleyka Strasner said Zero Grocery’s sourcing model has been proven this year, citing “20x growth” since the beginning of February. She wrote, “As other grocery stores faced out-of-stocks due to a mutual reliance on the same distributors and sources for their products, we were able to avoid out-of-stocks and maintain a consistent customer experience.”
Zero Grocery is not the only startup adding a 21st century touch to the “milkman” delivery model. Last year in conjunction with Walgreens and Kroger, Loop began piloting its circular shipping model, which makes use of specially-designed reusable packaging.
Many grocers reintroduced plastic bags early in the pandemic, initially over fears of contamination from reusable bags. But heightened concerns by younger generations is expected to keep sustainability and reusability top-of-mind in the years ahead.
As online buying has accelerated during the pandemic, warnings of boxes and accompanying packaging piling up in landfills and plastic pollution finding their way to the ocean and other waterways to devastate marine life have only grown louder.
A report from environmental non-profit Oceana called out Amazon as a prime environmental offender, claiming the e-tail giant has increased its output of plastic packaging each year for the last three years, according to The Seattle Times.
- Zero Grocery has raised $4.7M, brick by brick – Zero Grocery
- This grocery delivery service doesn’t deliver you any plastic – Fast Company
- Can Loop make packaging reusability a reality at scale – RetailWire
- Amazon’s plastic waste could encircle globe 500 times, conservation group claims – The Seattle Times
- Report: Amazon’s Plastic Problem Revealed – Oceana
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: Do you see the sustainability play of Zero Grocery as being attractive enough to keep and maintain a loyal audience? Will the uptick in e-grocery during the pandemic be a catalyst for sustainable delivery services like Zero Grocery and Loop?