Help! Suggestions needed! I live in Cambridge (UK) and so far I haven’t found a…

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Help! Suggestions needed!

I live in Cambridge (UK) and so far I haven’t found any way to buy dry goods in bulk.
A couple of days ago I found a co-operative that buys goods in huge bags (12.5-25kg depending on the kind of good) and then packages them in smaller (plastic) bags.
I wrote them asking if it was possible to either bring my own reusable cotton bags/jars in order to fill them directly (since they re-package the goods in the same place in which the shop is located) or if I could use their packaged ones and simply bring back all the plastic bags in order for them to reuse them.

This is what they replied
“Hi Bianca,
Thank you for your enquiry. We share your concerns about reducing packaging. We do have a refill station for household cleaning and some shampoo where you can bring back your bottle and refill it. However, for food stuff processed on our premises, we can’t allow customers to bring their own packaging. It has been considered but is unpracticable in terms of food hygiene and organic certification standards. Another option would be to get a bulk sack / box directly from our warehouse. That would cut the middle man (i.e us) packing process. Of course, this means you would have to stock in big quantities (rice, lentils come in 25KG sacks, dried foods in 12.5 KG boxes for example). We are looking into more eco-friendly packaging at the moment. Hope this will help. ”

I can’t buy the 12.5/25kg bags both for economical and space issues and I don’t know anyone that wants to share costs.
I would like to reply to them because it seems a bit weird that it’s so “impracticable” as they say, there are so many places around Europe that sell dry goods such as beans, rice, spices etc in “bulk”, it even happens in a lot of normal markets where it’s completely legal even if they are held in an open space and as such there could be more hygienic concerns.
I’m not saying that he’s lying but just that I don’t understand how it can be so “unpracticable”, especially since they said that they “share my concerns about reducing packaging” and that they “are looking into more eco-friendly packaging at the moment.”

Do you have any suggestions? Does any of you know anything more specific about UK legislation in terms of selling goods in bulk and hygiene?

Thank you very much

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Rachelle Strauss
Rachelle Strauss
Rachelle Strauss is founder of MyZeroWaste.com and ZeroWasteWeek.co.uk Both are leading websites for helping householders reduce landfill waste. Her work has attracted media stories and engagement in documentaries, film and radio both locally and abroad.

7 Comments

  1. Gemma Batty says:

    I don’t know anything about the law but I’m in manchester (uk) and my local store uses wall mounted hoppers for lots of dry goods and they welcome shoppers bringing their own containers. So I can’t see that it’s an issue unless they can’t afford/don’t want the dispensers.

  2. I think, I would buy it and I would bring my own bags every time and then refill right after purchase and leave them the plastic bags. Might be a bit agressive, but if they have the trash (which they need to dispose of) it might make them change their mind (there is a law in Germany, that they have to accept packaging trash)

  3. You could also suggest paper bags, or maybe have them fill jars that you could dump in your bags and they reuse jars

  4. Clare Thorpe says:

    It depends on how there filling their bags. I’d tend to assume that they’re acting in good fAith. If they’ve got a machine weigh/ bag seal then they simply can’t stick your bags on’

  5. Sue Taylor says:

    Have you thought of setting up a ‘Food Group’ with family, friends and co-workers. Whilst my daughter lived on a social housing estate we sent one up, buying good quality foods including cheese etc from SUMA https://www.sumawholesale.com/?gclid=COD_04Dnrc8CFVKZGwod00QH5g

  6. In addition, Cambridge admissions tutors are provided with publicly-available school performance data to help them contextualise educational achievement when considering applications.

  7. Grace says:

    Hi! Check out Arjuna! They have a website and do all sorts of whole foods and you bring your own bag. There’s also a loose organic vegetable shop opposite the cathedral. Go to cambridgesustainablefoods.com to find out about loads of zero waste and organic produce. Hope this helps 🙂

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