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Waste Management at Great Lakes Refill

How do we manage waste as a low waste grocery store?

As Sarnia-Lambton’s first and only low waste grocery store & refillery, waste management is our top priority. The refill and zero waste movement to us is not about being trendy, it is a way of life that we feel is necessary to preserve mother earth. We created this business around our passion for the environment, our desire to curb the over consumption of plastics, keep our waterways clean and create access to a low waste lifestyle to our community. Every product that comes through our doors has been critically thought through and researched before it is added to our shelves.

All that being said, we as a store do create some waste in the process. After all, our hard goods and food have to be shipped to us in something and arrive in sealed and safe packaging for our customers. With all of our lifestyle product distributors we have an agreement that we do not want any plastic packaging with our shipments. All of our partners are generally on the same page in terms of waste reduction and therefore this has been very successful from the beginning.

In terms of food, we order the largest pack sizes available to us to avoid any extra packaging. Any plastic bags that bulk foods are packaged in go into a Terracycle box. We purchase Terracycle boxes for our plastic food packaging to ensure that it is recycled properly. Any brown paper food bags are recycled, boxes are put out for customers to pack groceries, given to people who are moving or as a  last resort recycled. Often times our lifestyle products come in boxes that have already been reused by a supplier as part of their reduced waste goals.

Liquids – all of our soap/shampoos/cleaners etc. are shipped to use in reusable 20L jerrycans. This means once the jugs are empty, the suppliers take them back, sanitize and refill them creating no waste.

Container exchanges with local partners – with all of our local partners we have a container exchange system. This means that they deliver their products in a clean container and we return the empty container to them for reuse next time.

Any other containers/jars that can’t be reused with the manufacturer are put into circulation through our free jar program for customer use.

We also compost any organic matter and some of our recycled brown paper towels used for drying our hands (good hand hygiene is essential).

We at Great Lakes Refill try our best to ensure a better end of life for any waste we create as a company and are always trying to do better every step of the way. If you are interested in checking out a Terracycle box for your home, visit their web page and check out what they have to offer 😊.

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