This New Dispenser System Could Revolutionize Zero Waste Shopping

Say goodbye to open bins and shared scoops. TAGPod is a modern-day solution.

TAGPod zero waste dispenser system in use

The Aggressive Good

There has been a curious new innovation in the world of zero waste grocery shopping. A company called The Aggressive Good (TAG) based in Ottawa, Canada, has just launched its new TAGPod system, which is described as "a win-win for consumers, retailers, distributors and our environment," making zero waste food shopping and bulk distribution easier than ever.

Anyone who has shopped with their own containers knows the hassle involved with getting them tared on a scale, usually by a store employee, before filling. It's an awkward procedure that can take a while, especially if you have to line up with other customers to get to the checkout scale to do so. It can be a deterrent from bringing one's own containers.

The TAGPod eliminates that step. From a press release: It is a "one-touch, user-friendly interface that enables shoppers to easily customize the amount of product they wish to purchase." The customer taps the front of the food dispenser with an RFID card to activate the system. When the button turns green, the product is ready to dispense, and the customer places an open container underneath, holding down the button until it's filled.

Jennifer Look-Hong, CEO and founder of TAG, described it to Treehugger as being like a gas pump: "Press and hold until the screen shows the quantity or dollar amount that the consumer would like." The card is then tapped again at a kiosk that prints out a receipt and is presented to a cashier for payment. 

TAGPod closeup view

The Aggressive Good

Each of the food items for sale has its own dispenser built into it, with internal scales for measurement. Look-Hong explained in an email that the modular system is as helpful to retailers as it is to customers: 

"[It] allows retailers to be more profitable by selling more volume per square foot and providing an option for consumers to purchase in bulk with zero waste. The cartridge portion provides a solution for food manufacturers and suppliers to distribute product in reusable cartridges instead of single use packaging." 

This technology truly revolutionizes zero waste shopping, bringing it into the modern era. As described on TAG's website, shoppers can now "say goodbye to open-air bins, shared shovels, and (accidentally) mixed products." They no longer have to choose between "collecting food in (yet another!) single-use plastic bag and taring and weighing their reusable container. They don’t have to choose between reduced-waste shopping, time saved, and food hygiene." This is all very true—and profound. This would make me far more inclined to take my own containers, even on days when I'm in a rush (which seems to be most days).

TAG goes on to say that its one-touch system is COVID-safe, designed for a world that needs to eliminate potential for cross-contamination. This is no insignificant promise, especially considering how many stores were forced shut down their reusable container programs as soon as the pandemic started—and just when we needed them more than ever to curb superfluous plastic packaging waste.

When asked about the effect she thinks this will have on shoppers' inclination to bring their own containers, Look-Hong said, "Eliminating this [taring] step is substantial, it saves not only the consumers but retailers a significant amount of time having to weigh their containers prior to filling, filling then weighing again after filled. At this speed, retailers have a limit of how many consumers they can have in at any given time."

The video below shows it in action:

The TAGPod system is first rolling out at the Natural Food Pantry in Ottawa, and once that pilot project is complete, Look-Hong said TAG will "do final development" before launching through any independent grocers and retailers that are "looking to distribute goods in a more sustainable waste free format." The company plans to roll out across Canada first, and then in the United States.  

It can't come soon enough to my hometown.