‘Zero Plastic’ Organic Food Retailer Introduces Disposable Gloves to Customers as a Covid-19 Prevention Measure | News | Eco-Enterprise
A high-end organic food retailer touted as ‘plastic-free shopping’ has mandated disposable plastic gloves for customers at its stores in Singapore as a coronavirus prevention measure.
Before entering its stores, Scoop Wholefoods customers must register using a QR code and then put on a pair of disposable plastic gloves. The Australian chain says the gloves are an added hygienic measure for customers, who use shovels to pick up dried food from the store’s self-service bins.
Scoop stores in Australia and the UK have not introduced the disposable glove policy, according to Eco-Business.
Scoop is the only zero waste retailer in Singapore to introduce such strict hygiene measures. Until mid-June, when the city-state entered the second phase of opening after a lockdown period, Scoop customers were advised to use hand sanitizer before entering stores.
Rival non-packaging bulk food brands Unpackt and The Source, which also use a self-service model, are asking customers to use hand sanitizer but not plastic gloves.
The move comes as environmentalists worry about the growing burden of waste from the Covid-19 pandemic. Personal protective equipment has called “the new pollution” as waterways become blocked with disposable masks and gloves thrown away.
Scoop said the gloves are “100% biodegradable and compostable” because they are made from corn and starch.
Scoop told Eco-Business the company is “under immense pressure and oversight from government officials because our concept is very new and involves unpackaged products,” adding that no cases of coronavirus have occurred. ‘has been reported in its stores.
“To prevent [coronavirus spread] and to please our customers and the government officials in charge, we have implemented this strategy to both keep the level of hygiene in our store high and reduce the threat of closure. Fortunately, it doesn’t cost Earth, ”the company said, adding it was“ still on a plastic-free mission ”.
Tom Peacock-Nazil, founder of ocean cleaning and plastic clearing firm Seven Clean Seas, said the disposable glove initiative, while “extremely ironic” for a zero-waste store, is an understandable defensive measure then. that companies are under increasing pressure to raise their hygiene game.
Singapore hotels have moved from buffets to a la carte menus, due to the higher risk of contamination of self-service restaurants, Peacock-Nazil noted.
However, he said using biodegradable or compostable plastic would not reduce the environmental impact of disposable gloves. “Even though they are made from plant material, in Singapore we know they will be cremated.”
He added that there was a need for consumers to question the company’s sustainability messages. “If brands tell them [consumers] it’s biodegradable, they believe. If brands tell them it’s sustainable, they believe it. Nobody asks the right questions to understand the mechanisms behind sustainability claims, ”he said.
Singapore retailers have taken a diverse approach to sustainability amid the Covid-19 pandemic. Some, like Starbucks, have canceled container intake programs for fear they might help spread the virus, while others, like The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf, have not.
Starbucks told Eco-Business it wants to provide its customers with “peace of mind” and plans to reintroduce reusable products “as our stores evolve from take-out and take-out models, and in accordance with government guidelines. local and health authorities “. Singapore’s National Environment Agency has not restricted BYO programs.
Last week, more than 100 health experts and scientists signed a statement reassuring consumers and retailers that BYO container programs do not pose a threat to public health if basic hygiene rules are followed and can still be used as an alternative to disposables.
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