COMPANIES & STRATEGIES - RETAIL

Eco-friendly alternatives

Luxembourg zero-packaging shop at risk



Zero waste shops allow customers to bring their own empty jars to fill up in-store. This allows for less waste both during the production stages but also at home.  Photo: Shutterstock

Zero waste shops allow customers to bring their own empty jars to fill up in-store. This allows for less waste both during the production stages but also at home.  Photo: Shutterstock

Alternatives to plastic-wrapped food, bulk purchases and the ensuing food and packaging waste are scarce in Luxembourg. Now, one of the country’s only zero waste businesses, Ouni, is at risk.

For the past five years, people looking to reduce their household waste have been able to do so by shopping at Ouni, one of Luxembourg’s most known zero waste stores. However, the eco-conscious shop is now at risk of shutting down.

The pandemic as a cause, but not only

Among the reasons for its financial difficulties, the store in a statement cited the pandemic, which limited the business’ activities. Though considered an essential business that could operate during lockdown, the nature of the retail made it difficult to keep employees and customers safe. At-home deliveries and to-go-packs were organised--inferring a large cost, and the city of Dudelange didn’t charge rent at that time. Yet, the Dudelange branch shut down, only three days after opening.

“However, since its reopening, the southern grocery shop has been slow to find its clientele, especially since the recovery is slow, as is the case for many local shops that have been damaged by the habits adopted during the confinement of online shopping in particular and by the chilliness due to the ambient instability,” said Ouni, which translated to “without” from Luxembourgish.

In addition to the changing habits of consumers, the Luxembourg-Gare branch has seen its number of customers dwindle due to remote working and the bad reputation the area has earned over the last few months because of safety concerns.

Tram works linking the Place de l’Etoile to the central station had also previously affected the shop’s activities.

Not going down ‘ouni’ a fight

Though the future looks fragile for the cooperative, it has not given up yet. In an official statement, Ouni invited cooperators to adopt the pre-covid habit of shopping locally and in-person, while also inviting others to buy shares (€100/share) or participate in a crowdfunding that will be launched in the coming days.

Last but not least, the eco-friendly business invites people to simply come by and discover waste-free shopping.