PORTLAND, Ore. — Shop at New Seasons Market you'll find plenty of alternatives to plastic.
But, like in most stores, you'll find a good amount of the real stuff too. That’s something the store is working to change.
"We're trying to reduce plastics as much as possible," sustainability project manager Athena Petty said.
The store is now using technology to help do that.
Many of the store's bulk food items that used to be packaged in plastic tubs are now packaged in thin plastic bags.
By using a software program recommended by the DEQ, the store discovered that a simple switch could have big impacts on the environment.
"We found that if we were able to switch food product packaging from a tub to a bag,” said Petty. “We were able to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions by 78 percent and our water usage by 80 percent."
The store also recently partnered with Portland-based GO Box, a company that provides re-usable containers to food vendors.
Customers basically rent and then return the containers after they use them eliminating the need for one of those single-use plastic clamshells.
Ever since China stopped accepting them a couple years ago, those clamshells can no longer be recycled curbside.
New Seasons is now working with some local start-ups to try and come up with a way to recycle those otherwise un-recyclable tubs.
"If this test is successful and we are able to find a partnership with someone who is able to accept the clamshells,” Petty said. “We'll be certain that we'll be keeping the materials local and keeping them out of the landfill."
Petty stressed the project is only in its testing phase, but there are more projects that will result in less plastic to come.