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The Story of Unverpackt

The story of Unverpackt

For immediate release: Brussels, December 6, 2019

The sixth chapter of the European Zero Waste release series of consumption and production case studies aimed at promoting zero waste business models: The Story of Unverpackt, the pioneer of the German unpackaged movement, inspired the opening of more than 120 stores in the region in the past 5 years.

The publication is part of a series of new case studies, Zero Waste Europe showcases transformative initiatives from cities, companies and individuals that are challenging and transforming current business models to achieve more sustainable resource use.

Packaging waste is a major component of the total global waste, especially when it consists of disposable food packaging, which is a sign of disposable culture. According to the latest data, every German citizen generates 220.5 kg of packaging waste every year, most of which are disposable plastics. When disposing of plastic waste in Germany, most (85%) are incinerated, landfilled, shipped abroad, or are polluting the environment and endangering public health (1). In order to solve this growing problem, in 2014, Marie Delaperrière, the founder of Zero Waste Kiel, opened Germany's first unpackaged store "Unverpackt" in Kiel.

How does it work? Unverpackt is a different kind of grocery store: all products are sold in bulk or through a deposit plan. By purchasing as much unprocessed regional food as possible, packaging materials can be further saved in the supply chain. In this way, Unverpackt saves packaging in the B2C field (business-to-consumer) and the entire supply chain (including B2B (business-to-business)) while preventing food waste.

Since opening, the store has been committed to significantly reducing packaging waste, promoting short-distance delivery routes, and encouraging customers to rethink their consumption behavior from a sustainable development perspective. The economic success of Unverpackt demonstrates the feasibility of the concept in the context of mature food markets.

The study also highlighted some of the challenges of the zero-waste business model, such as the need to improve the supply chain, increase the use of deposit return programs, and the lack of supporting and adaptive legislation to scale up such businesses.

Larissa Copello, a consumption and production activist in Zero Waste Europe, called on lawmakers to play a role in helping new business models such as Unverpackt:

"If the extension of producer responsibility (EPR) costs are ecologically adjusted to make reuse more cost-competitive than single use, then free packaging stores such as Unverpackt will become more competitive. A series of economic and legal incentives are needed. To support unpackaged stores in Europe and other regions."

Download the case study.


Media contact: Larissa Copello, consumer and production activist, Zero Waste Europe,, +32 (0) 2 73 62 091


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