Supermarket Rimping in Thailand has come up with the initiative to package their products in banana leaves as a way to reduce the use of plastic packaging. Yearly 9 billion tonnes of plastic are being produced. Only 9% of this plastic gets recycled. A large contributor to this waste comes from plastic food wrappers, plastic grocery bags, and containers. The use of local biodegradable products would be a great solution to minimize the large quantity of plastic produced. 

Why banana leaves?

Banana leaves grow year round in Thailand and they are often simply discarded because there is no large demand for them. The easy accessibility for the leaves allows for a low-cost alternative to plastic wrappers, because the only expenses associated with the produce would be that of gathering them. Due to the suppleness, large size, and thickness of the leaves they are more than suitable for the wrapping of fresh produce. Strings of flexible bamboo are used to secure the products in the wrapping.

Further sustainable packaging options 

Aside from Rimping covering their fresh produce in these banana leaves, they take other initiatives to reduce plastic use. For example, they provide biodegradable containers for ready-to-go meals. Additionally, for customers who forget their reusable cloth bags they offer biodegradable bioplastic carrier bags as well as cardboard boxes as an alternative to plastic bags. In order to keep the customers motivated the store rewards them by donating 50 Thai Baht (1.48 EUR) towards each customer’s groceries for the plastic bags that they save. 

Influencing others

Not only has their initiative encouraged the locals to become more conscious of their sustainable habits, it has also inspired supermarkets worldwide to re-evaluate their sustainable behaviour. Trader Joe’s, for example, responded with the goal to minimize the use of plastic in various departments of the store, and UK’s Tesco, announced that they too will be cutting down plastic packaging in the fresh produce area. 

Although utilizing banana leaves worldwide would be too expensive in cost of production, using local biodegradable products in stores could be a good alternative to cut down the global use of plastic. 

Do you want to read this in Dutch, no problem: here is the article.