As the 10th anniversary of the Climate Change Act, which formalised how the UK tackles climate change, is marked CARLA JENKINS asks can the city get Greener?

AFTER a major supermarket announced an ‘Unpacked’ trial that will move towards zero-waste in their stores, we wonder: could Glasgow get greener?

Waitrose recently announced their new trial ‘Unpacked’, which will see customers being able to fill their own containers with products ranging from pasta and cereals to wine and washing up liquid.

Introducing the UK’s first ‘pick and mix’ for frozen fruit, customers will be able to ‘borrow a box’ from the store to fill with their own fancies. They will then be able to return the box or reuse as necessary.

Similarly, plastic will be removed from flowers and plants, replaced by 100% recyclable craft paper.


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The initiative is part of a new move to save thousands of tonnes on unnecessary plastic and packaging. Although the trial is being tested south of the border, if successful it is sure to come to Glasgow’s Byres Road store.

James Armstrong, from Waitrose & Partners, said: “The initial reaction to the Unpacked test in Oxford has been extremely positive following its first week. Over the coming weeks we want to gather as much feedback as possible to understand which ideas there are an appetite for before testing those which prove popular in more shops.

“It’s very early stages so we don’t know where these will take place, but we know there are a growing number of Glasgow customers who want to shop in a sustainable way.”

Glasgow has previously been championed as one of the UK’s most eco-friendly cities, coming third in a 2017 poll by Good Move.

Indeed, the city is a central hub for zero-waste markets, vegan-friendly (and in some cases, only) bars and restaurants like Stereo, Mono and the Flying Duck, and vintage up-cycled clothing stores, such as West Vintage or Minted Clothing.

If Waitrose’s initiative is to reach Glasgow, it certainly won’t be the first.


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“Of course, it’s a good step for Waitrose to take, but it’s not the first in Glasgow” says Reuben Chesters, director of Locavore on Victoria Road, one of Glasgow’s most popular zero-waste market stores famous for its packaging-free veg boxes. “Independents have been doing it for a long time.”

“It’s a good start, but it’s a rubbish place to finish – packaging is only one thing that’s flavour of the month. If you’re looking at ethical shopping, you should be looking at the whole supply chain. How was it produced, who was it produced by, how was it transported and where do the profits go?”

It is possible to have such a business. An example would be the liquid deli Demijohn, also found on Victoria road. Demijohn is a low impact sustainable retailer who sells all its products in re-usable, refillable glass bottles and has been doing so for 15 years.

Demijohn’s products are made by artisan producers with products sourced or foraged locally, decanted into re-usable PET containers and then sent to Demijohn.

From there the customer chooses their own recycled glass bottle or paper bag.

The result is that the waste from Demijohn is so little that their landfill bin is almost empty.


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We are excited that people are really taking the long-term effect plastics are having on our planet, and zero waste seriously” says Angus, Demijohn’s director.

“Since Frances and I founded Demijohn, we have been championing sustainable retail for exactly this reason. It was a revolutionary direction to take in 2004 and still is today, yet it is needed more now than ever.

“Our first, not our last, thought always has to be “how can we do this in a way that has least impact on the environment?” We therefore shout from the rooftops that other food and drink retailers should follow us and look closely at their processes and packaging in that hope that we can all make good on our environmental crusade.”

With or without Waitrose’s new waste initiatives, Glasgow and surrounding districts are already moving towards a greener future. In the past year, Glasgow Airport has moved away from single-use plastic issuing 3500 reusable bottles to staff, and Silverburn shopping centre recycled 91% of their waste with nothing going to landfill sites.

But the real responsibility lies with individuals and independents, Reuben believes.

“There’s lots of stuff starting to happen in Glasgow, which is really good” he says.

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“There’s potential for us to be a leader on that but it’s not going to be through a fancy supermarket swooping in and saving the day.”