The Next Generation Supermarket


Designer Diana Jess is out to debunk the myth that American consumers are apathetic about the environment. To prove this, she has designed a supermarket concept called R3 (Rethink the Way You Shop) that builds on the "Reduce, Reuse, Recycle" concept. A finalist in Metropolis Magazine's 2005 Next Generation Competition, her store would include a package-recycling center shaped like an oversize stack of newspapers that adjoins to the store, whose design is inspired by a two-liter bottle. Connecting the two is a boutique stocked with a colorful array of branded but empty reusable bottles. In the main grocery section, digital filling stations equipped with informational LCD touch screens invite consumers to inquire about their purchases. "It disturbs me that American packaging is so wasteful and supermarkets are so ugly," she says. Her project recognizes that without package recycling laws in place in the United States (as they are in a country like Germany -- more details below the fold), financial incentives and provocative branding will need to coerce consumers to do the right thing.Much of this seems to be inspired by Germany's system for package recycling -- in 1991 the nation enacted a packaging ordinance, requiring all industries to take back used containers -- and Duales System Deutschland, the country's leading package recycler. Not only does the German system compel nearly everyone to sort their refuse and recycle their used bottles, it also encourages manufacturers to design products that are less of a hassle for consumers. Companies that enroll in the Duales System Deutschland pay a licensing fee based on the weight and material of their goods, so minimal packaging is in everyone's best interest. Diana lived in Germay for four years, and had a chance to see the system at work, and she asserts that the Germans are no more partial to sorting their waste than stateside citizens are.

Germany's progressive environmental legislation may be responsible for the nation's good behavior. A survey by Duales System Deutschland revealed that 91 percent of the population sorts their household waste, but of those, according to Jess's research, 44 percent admitted to not caring about environmental issues. Here's to hoping she can get her store off the ground, so we can keep more packaging out of the trash. ::Diana Jess via ::Metropolis