Is composting key to sustainable e-grocery?

Discussion
Photo: Rise Mrkt
Aug 28, 2019
Matthew Stern

E-commerce adoption and environmental sustainability initiatives often conflict with each other. Customers want the convenience of having things shipped to them, but that creates a lot of excess garbage in the form of packaging. Now a startup is trying to reconcile that in the food space by providing all of its products in compostable packaging.

Rise Mrkt plans to launch in 2020, if its crowdfunding campaign is successful, according to Fast Company.

“Rise Mrkt is a radically sustainable online grocery store,” wrote founder Jordyn Gatti on his company’s Kickstarter page. “We sell dry pantry goods shipped directly to your door packaged in our 100 percent compostable pouches. 100 percent compostable means there is ZERO plastic. Yes, totally plastic free packaging! Our shipping materials will also be totally plastic free, made from recycled materials and compostable when possible. We also take care of the composting by sending you a pre-paid shipping label to simply ship the empty pouches to the closest composting facility after you’ve accumulated enough of them.”

The Brooklyn-based startup, which already operates thebettermrkt.com, assures customers its prices either match or beat the price on the same products at retailers like Amazon and Thrive Market. Mr. Gatti wrote, “We’re able to do this by buying our items closer to the original source which eliminates the middlemen who increase the cost and waste of any product. Also, by shipping the items directly to your door we are eliminating the added cost of having a physical retail space.”

The company is planning to address “food insecurity” via pop-ups or mobile grocery trucks.

In brick-and-mortar retail, zero waste grocery stores that require people to bring their own containers and bags for food have been increasing in popularity. Plastic bag bans and eco-guilt also incentivize grocery shoppers to bring their own bags.

A recently-launched “circular” e-commerce platform called Loop piloting with Walgreens and Kroger enables consumers to pick up products in special reusable packaging at stores and then place the used containers on their doorstep to be cleaned and reused. 

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: Can an online grocer like Rise Mrkt succeed, or will the avoidance of plastic packaging limit its potential? Can you envision an e-grocery future in which all product packaging is completely sustainable?

Please practice The RetailWire Golden Rule when submitting your comments.
Braintrust
"Slowly the message about the need to cut down on plastic use is being heard and acknowledged by customers."
"Having sustainable packaging is a plus, but not likely the game changer. "
"My hope is that Rise Mrkt and all retailers and manufacturers put significant focus on rethinking the entire supply chain."

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7 Comments on "Is composting key to sustainable e-grocery?"


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Art Suriano
BrainTrust

I think this is where we are all heading. Plastics are everywhere and, unfortunately, that is becoming a problem. We need to protect our environment and cutting down on plastic use is one way to accomplish that. Customers have accepted the many supermarkets who want customers to bring their own bags. Slowly the message about the need to cut down on plastic use is being heard and acknowledged by customers. I don’t see Rise Mrkt or any grocer opposing the use of plastic bags or packages being an issue for their business. In time substitutes will become the norm, and everyone will be okay with whatever they are.  

Lisa Goller
BrainTrust

Amid consumer outrage over plastic waste, compostable packaging gives Rise Mrkt a competitive edge.

One-third of U.S. consumers support a tax on all plastic food packaging, and 38 percent would be more likely to frequent grocers that offer fruit and vegetables without plastic packaging, according to Grocery Dive.

That’s why Rise Mrkt is wise to view the social trend toward sustainability as an opportunity to develop innovative, eco-friendly business practices, including compostable packaging.

John Karolefski
BrainTrust

Good for them! I hope more will follow.

In the larger sense, what can be done with the leading plastics problem in supermarkets — water and other beverages in plastic bottles? Banning plastic straws and plastic produce bags is a very small step. The major statement is plastic bottles.

Keith Anderson
BrainTrust

Glad to see models like this emerging that account for externalities we’ve long overlooked as an industry.

My hope is that Rise Mrkt and all retailers and manufacturers put significant focus on rethinking the entire supply chain. Compostable packaging is an important but small part of it — what we produce, how we produce it, how we store it, how we transport it, and and what happens at the end of that lifecycle are on us.

Ralph Jacobson
BrainTrust

I think as more viable, shopper-convenient options arise, widespread marketplace adoption will definitely occur.

Lee Kent
BrainTrust

I certainly don’t think it will limit their potential, however, their success is going to depend on their ability to deliver what the customer wants, and when. Having sustainable packaging is a plus, but not likely the game changer. For my 2 cents.

Tony Orlando
BrainTrust

I cannot envision a complete sustainable packaging grocery store for everyone across the country, as costs would rise. All of this media focus on plastic straws etc. is driven by a fraction of our society. It is noble for business startups who want to do this for their stores, but it should not be forced upon us to comply just because someone believes the earth will cease to exist in 12 years.

Many good things have already been put in place, and technology is creating more non toxic packaging, which gives consumers choices, and that is a good thing. We recycle all of our produce to farmers, and donate all of our close dated stuff to the local soup kitchens. Can more be done? Of course, but 100% sustainable stores will be a challenge for many years to come. In the mean time, stores can continue to make sure the actual food waste is kept to near zero, which can be done right now.

wpDiscuz
Braintrust
"Slowly the message about the need to cut down on plastic use is being heard and acknowledged by customers."
"Having sustainable packaging is a plus, but not likely the game changer. "
"My hope is that Rise Mrkt and all retailers and manufacturers put significant focus on rethinking the entire supply chain."

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