Last week Diageo announced that it was to remove plastic packaging from its beer products later this year; that following commitments by the likes of Coca Cola, Nestle and Danone to reduce their own plastic packaging waste.
All of these firms are responding to the ever-increasing demand from consumers to cut out single use plastics. But a growing number of businesses here are going one step further – as they seek to cater to those living a zero waste life.
— RTÉ Business (@RTEbusiness) April 26, 2019
That includes Smallchanges Whole Foods in Dublin's Drumcondra.
It’s one of a growing number of shops that cater to eco-friendly shoppers – selling ethically-made, biodegradable and zero-packaging products.
That includes loose dried goods like flour, sugar and pasta; giving customers the option of bringing their own reusable containers and paying by weight
Owner Peadar Rice said the model has proven popular with people of all ages and demographics, as it not only allows people to reduce packaging waste but also pay only for what they need on any given day.
He also said that the shop has become increasingly popular with elderly shoppers, who see it as the way they used to buy their products before individually-wrapped goods became the norm.
And while it also sells some pre-bagged dried goods, the shop is about to switch to a fully-compostable package, which will make it completely plastic-free.
The pay-by-weight model has proven so popular that Peadar Rice has invested heavily in a new self-service system, and is in the process of overhauling much of the shop to make it easier for customers to use.
He believes the model can be scaled up to work in supermarkets – but it would require a significant shift in the 'churn' model that the industry tends to follow.
However it is not always as simple as stripping away the plastic our products come in – as fruit grower, importer and distributor Keelings has found.
Many of their goods require some form of packaging in order to make it to shop shelves and Keelings Retail CEO David Keeling said they don't want to increased food waste to be the consequence of their removal of packaging.
Last year it trialled a compostable container for some of its fruit. It was a hit with customers, but fell apart when goods were refridgerated.
They're now going back to the drawing board and hope to try the compostable pack on another product soon.
In the meantime they've also joined the likes of ABP and Manor Farms to form Plastics Action Alliance, committing to a number of targets on reducing plastic usage over the coming years.
Progress will be made, Mr Keeling says, though it may be slower than some would like.
He also noted that, while companies like his are big players in Ireland, they’re relatively small cogs in a global packaging supply chain – something that will take time to change.