Zero-waste food retailer NU Grocery opens in Hintonburg

Nu Grocery
Nu Grocery

When you walk into Ottawa’s first zero-waste grocery store, the first thing you notice is the writing on the wall that says “tare, fill, pay” above two scales.

The idea is that customers bring their own containers to fill up with food and household items sold at the store.

So, the tare station – tare weight is a term to describe the officially accepted weight of an empty container – ensures customers only pay for the cost of the food and not the container.

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NU Grocery opened its doors for the first time on Saturday, and founder Valerie Leloup said Sunday she was pleased how many people came prepared.

“I was quite surprised yesterday to see people already coming with jars,” she said. “I expected that everyone would be empty-handed and some were already organized and equipped.”

The Hintonburg-based store is aiming to reduce the amount of waste each of us sends to the landfill by selling items with as little packaging as possible.

“We have a couple of products from local suppliers that are in jars, but customers can return the jar and the jar goes back to the supplier who reuses it,” she said. “So, if you shop in our store, you create absolutely no packaging waste.”

Leloup said they also offer paper bags for dry goods, in case people don’t have cotton bags, however the bags can be recycled or composted.

Canadians generate a lot of waste. According to a Conference Board of Canada study, in 2012 Canadians generated an average of 720 kg of waste per year.

This is far more than many other developed countries. For example, according to data from the OECD, in 2015, the UK produced 489 kg, France 502 kg, and Australia 557 kg.

Leloup said she developed the store to give people a store were they could find all of their grocery items, without packaging, in a single location.

Among the offerings available Sunday were bulk food items, and a wall of liquid products like soap and shampoo, dispensers filled with things like oil and vinegar and some cleaning products.

Leloup said they’ll continue to add products throughout the week ahead of their grand opening on Saturday, Aug. 19. By then, their selection will include dairy products, bread and produce.

This story originally appeared in Metro News.

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