The Future of Grocery Stores is Sustainable

Precycle

2. Zero Hunger 3. Good Health and Well-Being 12. Responsible Consumption and Production

Overview

Precycle is 100% sustainable and plastic-free, from food to household goods. All of their produce is always locally sourced and has no packaging. Any bulk goods available are put into reusable cotton bags, compostable paper bags, or glass jars. Precycle works daily to reduce as much waste as possible and encourages their community to do the same.

Authors

MaryLee Palumbo

MaryLee Palumbo

Elijah Jackman

Elijah Jackman

School

St. John's University

St. John's University

Professor

Charles Wankel

Charles Wankel

Innovation

Precycle’s innovation is that they sell only sustainable products and do not use any plastic packaging. And in some cases, they don’t use any packaging at all. They are a zero-waste grocery store located in Brooklyn, but they deliver throughout New York City. By doing this, the owner, Katerina Bogatireva, and her team can aid in a number of the UN sustainable development goals.

The first goal is Zero Hunger (2). This goal works to prevent hunger, achieve food security, improve nutrition and promote sustainable agriculture. Precycle is involved in this goal by donating to community fridges every week to help provide meals to families in need. Not only are they donating food, but because they only sell sustainable and locally sourced foods, all the food that is donated is already healthier and of better quality than the processed foods available in a standard grocery store. The second goal is Good Health & Well-Being (3). This goal focuses on ensuring healthy lives and promoting well-being for all ages. Since Precycle carries only local and sustainable products, the company encourages customers and the families to whom they donate to be more conscious about the sources of products they are eating, drinking, or using in their homes.

But the main goal Precycle aids in is Responsible Consumption & Production (12). Precycle implemented a system that encourages reusing, up-cycling, and preventing unnecessary waste from the start instead of relying on post-consumer recycling by discouraging food waste, donating excess food, composting food that has gone bad, and eliminating unnecessary packaging waste. It is 100% transparent about where its products are sourced from, which gives its customers the power to implement more healthy, eco-friendly, and sustainable choices into their daily routine.

The Future of Grocery Stores is Sustainable

Inspiration

Katerina Bogatireva grew up in Riga, Latvia when it was part of the Soviet Union. She witnessed empty shelves at grocery stores and people in her community struggling to have enough necessities when growing up. This situation instilled in her the values she maintains today- to never waste food and do the most with every resource. At the stores in Latvia, plastic packaging was rare, and storage of most bulk goods happened in reusable glass jars. When Katerina moved to New York City as a young adult in the early 2000s, she was surprised by the amount of waste produced by just the packaging alone. It didn’t sit right with her, and she felt that society takes food and necessities for granted. For years, Katerina had always done her best to replace disposable with reusable and challenged herself to avoid waste as much as possible. It wasn’t until 2015 that Katerina experienced a turning point. Her son had asked her, “Mommy, do you know how long the plastic will remain in the landfills?” From this seed grew the idea for Precycle, and in December 2018, the store we know today was born.

Overall impact

Through Precycle, Katerina was able to turn her good habits into a profitable business. Her zero-waste values were able to make a more significant impact than she could imagine. Now Precycle serves an entire community of people who want to participate in more sustainable grocery shopping throughout New York City.

The business has affected Katerina, who can now help a range of people cut out plastic and other waste in their day-to-day lives. By being part of such a unique and innovative business, her employees can help themselves and help their customers reduce food and packaging waste. Precycle’s customers take the practices and notions they have learned through Precycle and carry that over to other areas in their life, and they share them with other people, too.

With Precycle doing so much good for a community, it is only a matter of time before more businesses start to adopt their business model. While companies today try to be sustainable, usually in the household and beauty industries. Precycle is unique in being a fully sustainable grocery store. Although it may be one of the first of its kind, Precycle has still set the bar for sustainable grocery shopping to come. In a market that is becoming more environmentally conscious, there is plenty of hope that Precycle will one day be the first of many stores to adopt the sustainable and zero-waste business model.

Business benefit

In society today, we are made more and more aware of our environmental impact. Precycle provides an option for people who want to lower their waste expenditure, plastic usage, and food waste. Precycle recently became a certified B corporation for its outstanding ability to fulfill a greater purpose and be a profitable company. The company employs individuals that believe in the mission and values that form the foundation of the business. These employees are committed to eliminating waste and choosing to reuse rather than dispose of things. And Precycle empowers customers to make environmentally-safe choices by fulfilling a small niche compared to traditional grocery stores. Our interviewee and manager at Precycle, Skye Smith, told us that zero-waste groceries stores are still relatively new. While taking small steps, the business is an innovation in the grocery waste category that's setting the stage for more future growth.

Skye mentioned that innovation is a crucial factor in driving the company's success. By constantly adding new products, it can increase its target market and become more attractive as a business while staying true to its reusable mission. Beyond just the products offered, Precycle is now starting a plastic-free delivery service, providing customers with bulk goods in reusable containers that will be returned and cleaned, creating a lower waste profile for the company and consumers alike. And these goods will be delivered using an electric van to limit carbon emissions.

Social and environmental benefit

Precycle is committed to providing a zero-waste option to its customers and the area of operation in New York City. Skye discussed how the company aims to teach the importance of managing waste by making conscious choices. The idea of being eco-friendly is one they want more and more people to adopt. This process builds a relationship between the business and customers. Additionally, Precycle has committed to a zero-hungry policy, with weekly donations to the community fridges that feed those in need. This support for its community engenders a sense of loyalty and attraction to the company, aiding in its ability to garner more attention and increase its effectiveness.

Unlike conventional grocery stores, Precycle's products are locally sourced and sustainable. The company stresses knowing where products come from to ensure its commitment to environmental benefits. This innovation of transparency in the grocery store enables members of society to make smarter choices in expenditure and its impact. To support this, the company sells responsibly consumed and produced products. By donating unused food, members of society that need a meal benefit from Precycle. And society as a whole benefits because of re-cycling and up-cycling of select produced goods and packaging. By using reusable cotton bags, glass jars, and compostable plastic bags, Precycle can influence society by leading as an example for consumers and other businesses alike.

Interviews

Skye Smith, Manager

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Precycle

Precycle

New York City, NY, US

Business Website: https://www.precyclenyc.com

Year Founded: 4

Number of Employees: 51 to 200

Precycle is a zero-waste and locally-sourced grocery store based out of Brooklyn. Unlike other grocery stores, Precycle refrains from the use of unnecessary packaging.