Bepakt — Our mission, vision and impact thus far…
Bepakt is an independent think-tank and open knowledge platform on the topic of zero-waste (packaging-free) grocery stores / supermarkets. Since 2014, we have been actively maintaining the most comprehensive international database on this niche. Early 2019, we listed 350+ zero-waste grocery stores and 80+ of their crowdfunding campaigns. Additionally, we wrote articles to demystify topics such as ocean plastics, recycling and the history of the supermarket.
Bepakt’s mission is to help reduce consumer (food) packaging waste by empowering the niche of zero-waste (packaging-free) grocery stores / supermarkets — and its stakeholders — with comprehensive open data. Bepakt’s content and design allows accessible and flexible knowledge exchange between zero-waste grocery store entrepreneurs, policy makers, governments, consumers, researchers, designers, media, influencers, educators, and others.
Bepakt — Our focus: the ‘glocal grassroots movement’ of zero-waste grocery stores
The phenomenon of packaging-free (zero-waste) grocery stores has evolved as a ‘glocal grassroots’ movement: the shops are small, local, independent businesses, offering mostly local products – yet they are connected via a global zero-waste movement, with most of its influence spreading via the internet. Bepakt stimulates research into the economic and societal potential of this unique business model.
Zero-Waste Grocery Stores – Their main advantages
🌎 Precycling: avoidance of (packaging) waste generation at the source. Why produce packaging when it isn’t necessary? Packaging waste prevention has significant advantages over recycling and other forms of waste management: it prevents waste from ending up in nature due to accidental release or waste mismanagement. It thereby prevents harm to our ecosystem; directly (e.g. the entanglement of animals) or indirectly (e.g. micro-sized ocean plastics accumulating in food chains). For more info see the Bepakt article ‘Plastic Problems‘.
“Precycling” is an internationally recognized approach as the best way to tackle the (plastic) waste problem. The European Union describes this in its Waste Framework Directive. The US Environmental Protection Agency states it in its Waste Management Hierarchy. These policies also mention other benefits of stimulating zero-waste, such as: incentivising green-tech innovation and creating green jobs.
🌎 Food waste reduction: zero-waste grocery stores allow customers to buy the exact amount of food they need, thus avoiding excesses (source: Unwrapped, 2018). Also the lack of packaging gives freedom of choice to clients about how much product to buy (e.g. not being obliged to buy 500gr pasta or 375gr of cereals).
🌎 Return to human relations in grocery stores: the small size of zero-waste stores, their neighbourhood-focused nature, their customer experience, their product typology (mostly local and organic, where everything is known about the producer), as well as their lack of packaging, inevitably lead to the necessity to exchange some words in the shop. Here, the shop assistant is a key figure in the shop, a point of reference for clients.
🌎 Prevent endocrine (hormone) disrupting chemicals (EDCs), which are released by for example the plastic coating inside of tin food cans. Food packaging is a major source of exposure to EDCs (specifically BPA and EDHP) [source journal: Environ Health Perspectives]. EDCs can have a negative impact on the health of pregnant women and their unborn babies [sources: Prof.dr. Majorie van Duursen (Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam) and the FREIA project].
Bepakt.com – Towards Version 2.0 – Why re-design our website?
Between 2014 and now, countless voluntary hours have gone into developing the current Bepakt website (version 1.0). All work was done with zero budget, using limited (free) tools. This pro-active approach has taught us a lot about design and communication. Various individuals and parties started to approach us with thankful messages, critical feedback, and requests to collaborate. Furthermore, our intern Giulia Saladino (who now still works at Bepakt) graduated on the topic of zero-waste shops in Italy while working on our Bepakt knowledge base. All these experiences have brought us to the conclusion we hold today: we need to take Bepakt to a professional level. We hope you will support us in this process (we’ll release more details on this later).
The new Bepakt website will expand upon our believe that comprehensive, transparent, free data is essential for the zero-waste supermarket movement to grow as one symbiotic entity. Not only because it creates networked visibility and knowledge within the zero-waste niche, but also because third parties (researchers, designers, press, NGOs, governments, and others) can learn to understand the details of the zero-waste entrepreneurship, and in that way offer their optimal support. Furthermore, we are now more aware of challenges that zero-waste grocery store entrepreneurs are currently facing.
Bepakt.com 2.0 – User Groups
Zero-Waste Enterpreneurs – The market of zero-waste (packaging-free) grocery stores / supermarkets evolved as a grassroots movement and is currently facing the challenge of breaking out of its niche form and reach a more mainstream market level. Therefore we believe it is important to research and share the strengths and challenges of local, independent entrepreneurship – while also documenting the evolution of the zero-waste grocery store niche across the globe. We also want to include zero-waste associations in our database, this group is rapidly expanding.
Third Parties – Researchers, policy makers, educators, designers and media still need accurate information to follow the latest global developments about zero-waste grocery stores.
Those New To Zero Waste – There is still a lot of confusion about complex topics such as packaging materials, waste processes and the food industry. We will continue to write educational articles to demystify these topics. Now, also with (interactive) illustrations. Furthermore, to create a worldwide map of zero-waste grocery stores, we are starting a collaboration with citizen movements platform In Common.
Bepakt.com 2.0 – Design Pillars
🔹 Open Access: free to access. Free to add new data/content (checked and moderated by Bepakt). Creative Commons licensed content (in stead of fully copyrighted content) whenever possible.
🔹 Exhaustive : covering all zero-waste grocery stores/supermarkets globally – in line with our “Glocal Grassroots” scope.
🔹 Detailed : Website built flexible enough to add more data and sub-databases at any point in time. Possible additions are: indexes of zero-waste organisations, zero waste lifestyle products, media articles…
🔹 Unbiased : displaying both the successes and difficulties (such as shop closing dates) of zero-waste entrepreneurship.
🔹 User Friendly:
– Tables with better filters and sorting mechanisms to suit the various (international) Bepakt users.
– The option to display or export graphs and spreadsheets in a flexible way.
– Real-time currency conversion (for the crowdfunding comparison table) and many other, new practical features.
– The new website will allow us to very quickly add new shops (which currently takes 20+ minutes per entry) or make changes to the content.
🔹 Crowdsourced: the option for users to add entries (such as shops) to the knowledge base – under Bepakt moderation.
🔹 Open Connection (API): usage of open formats and protocols that make it possible to connect our database with other database driven platform (such as maps). We’re currently talking with IN COMMON about collaborating on their zero waste map app.
🔹 Accessible: usable with handicaps.
🔹 Aesthetic: an attractive yet calm and minimalist style, with room for beautiful shop logos, illustrations, infographics and photos.
🔹 Future Proof / Sustainable: well maintainable, servicable and covering all hosting costs until 2023.
🔹 Ecological: carbon neutral webhosting via Greenhost
Bepakt 2.0 – Planning
We’ll adopt a step-by-step user experience design process, which allows us to create the following “deliverables”:
This section is still under construction. More info will follow soon…
Bepakt — Team and Partners
All three of us are involved in communication, writing and design:
👨💻 Rutger Muller (founder) [LinkedIn] – Dutch interaction designer – MA Design for Digital Culture
(with 1.5 years of experience in voluntary saving and redistributing food waste in Amsterdam Nieuw-West)
👩💻 Giulia Saladino [LinkedIn] – Italian zero-waste researcher – MSc Sustainable Business and Innovation
👨💻 Guus Rietbergen [LinkedIn] – Dutch interaction designer – MSc Human Centered Multimedia
📱 Call or mail Bepakt: firstname.lastname@example.org | +3165082457 (Rutger)