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CHATTER: Zero-waste grocery opens on Bathurst (Feb. 2020)

February 27th, 2020 · No Comments

According to Statistics Canada, from 2002 to 2016 the total amount of waste collected in Canada increased by 11 per cent, the equivalent of 3.5 million tonnes. Low and no waste grocery stores are a market-driven response to the trash problem, and they seem to be catching on. 

The newly opened Annex Market (718 Bathurst St.) is a grocery store with a mission: to re-invent grocery stores and the food system, too. 

This zero-waste store started as an idea in summer 2019 to help a local bean farmer who grows kidney beans and other legumes. His business was limited to selling to a few independent stores in Ontario. That’s how the owner of the Annex Market built his business model.

“I quickly realized that with kidney beans, we could deliver the product to market, organic kidney beans, cheaper than anyone else in the space by reusing the jar rather than recycling. And as the idea evolved, we realized we can put a lot of other things in a jar too,” says founder and owner of the Annex Market, Corey Berman.

The Annex Market seeks to create a new standard of packaging, and provide the infrastructure which includes packing, dishwashing, and transportation across Ontario to facilitate it. 

Berman applied the beer store model where it is more efficient to reuse and rewash the packaging rather than to buy it. 

So, he adapted the business to the closed-loop supply chain scheme, meaning that everything that enters the supply chain comes back. This makes it easier for anybody to be a producer by standardizing and simplifying the packaging, so producers can make more money by paying less for packaging. At the same time, this allows for a conversation to exist between the people who consume the food and the people who grow it. 

“Our concept store here is meant to emulate and show how a local market can do it themselves,” said Berman.

The Annex Market works with local farmers and producers who share the store’s belief that growing food should respect the environment and farmers. You don’t have to remember to bring your own jars, to wash your jars, and to fill up your jars. 

The Annex Market completely removes packaging and offers returnable and reusable Mason jars to contain the products. When you choose a product a 1.50 Canadian dollar deposit will be added to your purchase, but it will be re-credited upon its return.

“So, we believe that if we make it as easy as possible in today’s busy world, we can capture more of the consumers and not only is it easier, but it’s also more convenient,” said Berman.

The store has a wide variety of products, things common in the average pantry such as coffee, tea, chocolate, and granola. Household cleaners and shampoos are also available.

—Tanya Ielyseieva, Gleaner News

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