Backed by Portland, Ore.-based indie New Seasons Market, Bold Reuse, a provider of reusable packaging solutions, has launched Retail Reuse, a retail reusable packaging program for glass retail packaging. Additional backers include Oregon Metro, Waste-Free Advocates, and Pacific NorthWest (PNW) Packaged Food & Beverage Group’s Hannah Kullberg.
Using a 2022 $87,000 Investment and Innovation Grant from Oregon Metro, Bold Reuse has created a closed-loop reuse model for glass bottles and jars that are commonly used by food manufacturers to package their products. The pilot program, which will run until early next year, aims to provide considerable environmental and economic benefits to project stakeholders and the wider community by lowering emissions and costs associated with recycling and landfilling.
According to Jocelyn Quarrell, CEO of Portland-based Bold Reuse, “Our objective is to create a scalable system that food manufacturers and retailers can access effortlessly as we expand our services nationwide.”
Bold Reuse is currently in place at all 19 New Seasons Market stores in Oregon and southwest Washington state. Throughout the four years of their partnership, the two organizations have together facilitated 76,000-plus reuse cycles.
“One of our most important sustainable packaging strategies is developing systems that allow our customers to have a lighter environmental footprint when they shop with us,” noted Athena Petty, senior manager of sustainability at New Seasons. “Through this unique partnership – and with the support of Metro – this reuse project will help us build the infrastructure to do just that.”
Retail Reuse aims to develop, implement and track the effects of reusable packaging for retail food products from local companies in the Portland metropolitan area. The pilot program is rolling out at all New Seasons Market locations, where customers will be able to buy products from participating vendors as they usually would. Once customers have finished the product, they can place the used packaging in the Bold Reuse drop box at all New Seasons Markets. Bold Reuse will collect, wash and sanitize the containers before distributing the packages back to vendors.
“The cost of glass packaging has hit an all time high,” noted Kullberg. “This is forcing manufacturers to move to less sustainable options like pouches and plastic. We need to develop a new system of reuse to allow makers to continue using the highest-quality packaging for their products.”
Many food and beverage manufacturers currently offer glass return programs, but cleaning and sanitizing the containers is a time-consuming process. The pilot program makes glass return a possibility on a large scale.
Local vendors taking part in the pilot are Ground Up Nut Butter, Hot Mama Salsa, Sauvie Shrubs, Mickelberry Gardens and Sibeiho. As the program gains momentum, more vendors will be able to participate.
Among New Seasons’ most recent sustainability moves are the launch of an eco-friendly IPA in partnership with Hopworks Brewery and teaming with Tillamook County Creamery Association dairy cooperative on a regenerative-agriculture project.
New Seasons employs nearly 2,700 associates at its stores in Oregon and Washington state, offering a mix of locally sourced and organic items, classic grocery favorites, and chef-made grab-and-go meal solutions. The grocer commits 10% of its after-tax profits to the communities it serves. New Seasons and its sister banner, Santa Cruz, Calif.-based New Leaf Community Markets, an organic and natural grocer with five stores along California’s Central Coast, are independent operators within the Good Food Holdings family of brands