Shopping packaging-free is so damn sexy

Pieter Pot, you say? What’s that? A “pot” is dutch for a jar and that’s the core business of Pieter Pot, an online supermarket that delivers packaging-free groceries in reusable glass jars and bottles. Pieter Pot is a start-up from the Netherlands who made their first delivery in Belgium last October. Since then more than 8000 customers in Belgium are ordering their groceries in a “pot”.

In the Netherlands, where Pieter Pot started in 2019, the packaging-free supermarket already has more than 80,000 customers. All customers from Belgium and The Netherlands together saved a total of no less than 2 million packaging in 2 years

Martijn Bijmolt and Jouri Schoemaker, founders of Pieter Pot

How does it work?

Customers choose online which products they want to buy. Pieter Pot buys these in bulk and puts them in reusable glass jars or bottles. These are delivered to your home and at the next delivery, Pieter Pot takes the empty jars back and the customer gets his deposit back.

The products are bought from suppliers in the largest possible packaging: Pieter Pot only accepts bulk and refill packaging. For example, olive oil comes in 1000 liter barrels and these barrels go back to the supplier to be refilled. In the future, they hope to be able to fill most pots directly from the supplier in order to save on intermediate packaging altogether.

Pieter Pot has a serious impact

With the packaging-free delivery service, Pieter Pot reduces the number of single-use packaging and thus prevent CO2 emissions. Every time a customer chooses groceries in reusable jars, they reduce their CO2 footprint. Circular jars and bottles cause much less CO2 emissions than products in disposable packaging. Pieter Pot thus achieves concrete sustainable results in two ways. They reduce the number of one-way packaging and prevent CO2 emissions. Delivering one reusable jar emits less CO2 than delivering a pack of muesli (+20% CO2), a plastic bottle of ketchup (+157% CO2) and a disposable jar of mayonnaise (+32% CO2).

Together with the Kennisinstituut Duurzaam Verpakken (translated Sustainable Packaging Knowledge Institute) Pieter Pot calculated the CO2 footprint of their complete circular service. They take into account the production, all transport, cleaning of the pots and they also consider that each pot can be reused at least 40 times. There are packagings made of light plastic, which in comparison still produce slightly less CO2 than glass jars but that is why Pieter Pot is working on a new lightweight glass jar that is even lighter and takes up even less space, further reducing CO2 emissions from transport.

In addition, they work with PostNL, the most sustainable carrier that delivers throughout the Netherlands and Flanders with a fleet that is constantly being made greener.

Three reasons why the use of pots

  1. Recycling disposable packaging costs more energy and causes more CO2 emissions than reusing packaging.
  2. Some disposable packaging can be recycled, such as bioplastic, recyclable plastic or cardboard. But that is not possible with all packaging materials. And unfortunately you can only recycle a few times.
  3. Plastic and cardboard that comes into contact with food must consist of new material. As a result, food is never packaged exclusively with recycled plastic or cardboard.

The sustainable story continues…

Pieter Pot is on the right track to make the entire grocery chain packaging-free. The realization that every reusable pot effectively saves one packaging, motivates our customers. And they don’t stop there! The packaging-free company has the intention to gradually include more and more local products from Belgian producers in their range.

Pieter Pot wants to convince producers to produce packaging-free and to supply packaging-free. As an example or inspiration for other companies, Pieter Pot was named Initiative of the Year by the Sustainable Brand Index in 2021.

Want to find more inspiration about packaging-free?

Register now on our website and be ready for a full program about our theme ‘Food For Generations’.

Author: Britt Gevers, member of Team Communications

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