A supermarket in the Netherlands wants to make it easier on the planet and easier for its customers to avoid adding to the mountains of plastic waste generated every day.
On Wednesday, the supermarket, Ekoplaza, an upmarket chain, introduced what it billed as the world’s first plastic-free aisle in a store in western Amsterdam.
There, shoppers found groceries, snacks and other sundries — but not an ounce of plastic. The items are packaged in compostable materials or in glass, metal or cardboard.
Sian Sutherland, co-founder of A Plastic Planet, an advocacy group that has pushed the concept, said the initiative was “a landmark moment for the global fight against plastic pollution.”
The plastic-free aisle contains about 700 items, including meats, sauces, cereals, yogurt and chocolate.
“It’s not just a marketing trick, it’s something we worked on for years,” said Erik Does, the chief executive of Ekoplaza.
The opening of the supermarket aisle comes as the idea of banning plastic, or at least making more of it recyclable, gains supporters around the world.
In January, Prime Minister Theresa May of Britain called for plastic-free aisles in supermarkets in a speech outlining a 25-year environmental plan.
The same month, the European Union rolled out a plan to make all plastic on the European market recyclable by 2030.
“If we don’t do anything about this, 50 years down the road, we will have more plastic than fish in the oceans,” Frans Timmermans, the vice president of the European Commission, told reporters in January.
Items in the European Union’s cross hairs include drinking straws, plastic bottles, coffee cups and lids — none of which were available to shoppers browsing the new aisle in Amsterdam on Wednesday.
“One man’s plastic food wrapper is another man’s problem,” Sutherland said.
The proposals from the European Union and from Britain landed on the heels of a Chinese ban on all foreign plastic waste imports, which began in January.
Rwanda has also begun a campaign that threatened public shaming and even prison time to tackle the plastics problem, making it illegal to import, produce, use or sell plastic bags and plastic packaging except within specific industries like hospitals and pharmaceuticals.