A new system eliminates food packaging waste and allows customers to buy only the exact amounts they need
Recently, we have seen several innovations in recycling food packaging, such as packaging that changes color to let you know when food is out of date and packaging made from living plants. But what if instead of recycling the packaging, it were possible to pre-cycle it, to sell the foods with less packaging to begin with? Czech packager Arancia Europa has created a complete packaging solution, dubbed MIWA (for Minimum Waste), that allows stores to sell food wrapper-free.
The MIWA system begins when food producers package their products in special reusable capsules. The capsules replace plastic and cardboard packaging and allow the products to be shipped more cheaply. Once in stores, the capsules are placed in specially-designed modular stands on the sales floor. Shoppers choose their goods from an intuitive display screen that shows all the product information normally found on packaging. Customers choose the products and amounts they want by scanning the product codes on the displays, or using an app. The chosen amount of product is then dispensed into the customer’s own container or into MIWAs reusable containers. Customers pay from the app and pick up the order on the way out the door, or have it delivered. Because MIWA allows customers to buy only the amount they want, food waste is minimized.
The system recently beat out 600 competitors and became one of the winners of the Circular Design Challenge run in collaboration with OpenIDEO as part one of the New Plastics Economy Innovation Prize, which comes with a USD 200,000 award and a 12-month accelerator program to help the product reach an international audience. MIWA plans to use the award to develop shops where all goods are sold using the MIWA system. MIWA originator Petr Báča, hopes that the system will help eliminate wasteful packaging everywhere and change the habits of distributors, retailers, and customers. Could it be that the best packaging, is actually no packaging? Could this system be expanded to work for a variety of consumer goods?