The nation’s first zero-waste grocery store, In.gredients, opened in 2012 in Austin, Texas. the item was a modest grocery store, just 1,400 square feet, using a big mission: no waste.
“The original idea was to be as package-free as possible while providing a grocery experience,” explained Erica Howard Cormier, the store’s former general manager. Most of the food was sold in bulk in addition to housed in gravity bins. Items for purchase included dry goods like grains in addition to nuts, locally sourced produce in addition to liquids such as soap, soda, oil in addition to vinegar. Customers used their own packaging for almost all of the products including eggs. Cormier said the store had a 70 percent package-free rate using a goal to raise the percentage every year.
although the store’s packaging goals came at a significant cost.
“We realized after 18 months we weren’t changing shoppers habits,” Cormier said. “You have to plan a lot to go to the grocery store with your own containers in addition to people would likely go to the store across the street because they forgot their container.”
Another reason customers shopped elsewhere was to buy must-have items which were not available at In.gredients, like a six-pack of beer, potato chips in addition to turkey for Thanksgiving dinner. The store was losing business in addition to decided to shift its focus. the item dropped the package-free mission although maintained a commitment to zero waste by aggressively focusing on food. “We did not send food waste to the landfill,” Cormier said. although despite its best efforts, In.gredients closed in April as a result of low sales.
In.gredients co-founder Christian Lane still believes inside business type in addition to says the item could work if taken to scale. “Convenience stores aren’t very big, although if you can get many those going in addition to centralize buying, marketing, accounting in addition to human resources in addition to all those kinds of things, you can get economies of scale to make the item work.”
Lane said In.gredients was close to doing the type work — the item was open for a few years, supported local growers, in addition to provided some vendors with their first retail exposure, which led them to subsequent success— although when the lease came up for renewal the founders decided to close the doors, given the low sales in addition to lack of profitability. Lane is actually currently focused on another entrepreneurial endeavor — a technology consulting business which existed before the store.