Bulk Market®, London’s first plastic-free shop, is to open in Hackney in July 2018.

After starting off as a pop-up shop in mid-2017, the market is now preparing to reopen to the public by the end of July, with a new permanent store to be set up at Bohemia Place.
Following the recent conclusion of a successful crowdfunding campaign, which saw as many as 521 backers extending their support to the fight against plastic pollution, the shop will now further increase its products selection from the initial 200 items to more than 500 locally sourced products. From the initial hygiene & cleaning items and bulk whole foods, a range of new products—such as beer and wine refills—will now be purchasable at the zero plastic store.

Bulk Market®’s aim is to promote a socially responsible attitude towards shopping by enabling customers to go plastic free. “We want to bring a new way of purchasing goods to London,” says Ingrid Caldironi, CEO and co-founder of Bulk Market® with her business partner Bruna Martin. “A brand-new approach to shopping, where there is no surplus food to be binned and no packaging to be landfilled.”

The new space

The new permanent space in Hackney will aim to reflect and incorporate the ‘no waste’ ethos of the shop into the design of the market. The shop will offer a commercial-grade, in-house composting machine and a space for DIY workshops. “Even the building materials for the fit out will be diverted from landfills or upcycled“, says Caldironi.
Architects and entrepreneurs Jan Jongert, one of the founders of Superuse in the Netherlands, and Andreas Lang, co-founder of Public Works, are working to design a space from materials found in unusual places—such as the Royal Opera House. “We will be taking in a lot of theatre fabrics and metal off-cuts to transform into original shop fittings”, says Caldironi.
The choice of Hackney is also not accidental. The borough currently recovers only 24.8% of its recyclable waste, registering one of the worse recycling records across London. The fact that it is now home to a waste-free supermarket, with no plastic packaging on sight, is an encouraging step toward improving waste levels in the area and sensitising people towards a more responsible approach to plastic pollution.
Bulk Market shop London interior
Courtesy: Bulk Market.

The products

The items available at Bulk Market are brandless, sourced locally from social enterprises, cooperatives, community farms or made on site. They are all sold in bulk or in reusable containers. The main aim behind this approach is to enable people to understand where the food they buy comes from and how it is produced—from field to fork, and ultimately, to the bin.



The mission

“This idea of setting up a zero plastic shop came from my own needs.
“I wanted to support the right businesses and be able to shop without creating any waste, but there wasn’t anything like that in London. I’ve decided to take the leap.”–Ingrid Caldironi, CEO and founder of Bulk Market®

After working in retail marketing for a few years, Caldironi decided that neither the corporate world nor policy makers were doing enough to tackle the waste problem. “People are so disconnected with food that they don’t even feel guilty when throwing it in the bin. And the same applies to the environment and the amount of disposable packaging we toss into landfills every year.”

The plastic emergency

According to recent data published by the Department for Enviroment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) of the UK Government, the average recycling rate in Britain is around 45%, still behind the 50% EU target.
To date, a robust 57% of the resources we dispose of on a daily basis are being landfilled, incinerated or find their way to the ocean. It is being reported that the amount of food waste generated by supermarkets and the supply chain network alone could end world hunger many times over.

Based on a the recent report issued by charity Wrap UK, around a fifth of food brought into UK homes ends up as waste, corresponding to 7.3 million tonnes. Out of this, 4.4 million tonnes is defined as avoidable waste, and has a retail value of £13 billion.

“At Bulk Market®, we apply the 5 Rs modelrefuse, reduce, reuse, recycle, rot (compost), so we can make the most of the resources available,” comments Caldironi.
“We operate using the principles of the circular economy and we are committed to tackling food and packaging waste, while supporting suppliers who are making a difference to people’s lives and the environment.”

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