Over Packaging (and II)

In the previous post I have talked about the over packaging and its possible solutions. One was to avoid the packaging of products as far as possible. Speaking of this, has come to my mind the way in how many products were purchased a lot of years ago. I remember when as a child, I accompanied my grandmother to buy and most foods were purchased in bulk.


That is, the products were not packaged, or were packaged at the just time they were bought, according to the characteristics of the product. Legumes were put into small plastic, cloth or paper bags (usually reused many times), some canned food was wrapped in a special paper for it, meat and fish also were wrapped in special paper (fortunately this practice is maintained in traditional butchers and fishmongers), liquid products such as oil, milk or wine, usually were packaged in bottles or jugs that the buyer carried himself. Fruits and vegetables were carried in baskets. It was common for many products for immediate consumption that were sold in paper cones, highly biodegradable material. Even beer or soda were bottled in glass containers for which the consumer had paid a deposit and then they were reused(still functioning system for the area of ​​bars and restaurants in Spain).  It was common to go buy loaded with empty bottles and go home with full ones.

Unfortunately all these practices were lost. It is true that for reasons of preserving foods, the best way to package them is through vacuum systems, tetra bricks or other more profitable formulas for big business. But in terms of sustainability, I am convinced that it should be recovered many of the practices described above.

In many small towns, some of these customs are not lost and bulk sale has remained mainly because the product goes directly from producer to consumer. But for some time, are appearing in big cities shops that recover the essence of that bulk sale of some products. This applies to chains like Granel or TastyHouse that are promoting responsible and sustainable.


There are also very interesting initiatives that recover the idea of ​​returnable containers. In Norway, for example, when buying a packaged product in a PET bottle, a deposit is paid that is returned to the consumer if he deposited empty containers in a machine for this purpose, so that many of these containers can be reused.

In many of these cases of reusing packaging, which can include products other than those mentioned, is very important to have a good reverse logistics system. But that’s material for another post …

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