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Tips for Zero Waste shops reopening after Covid-19 ease

Posted by Pawan Saunya on

Zero waste and bulk stores are not exactly Covid-19 friendly, as they most often operate on a self service basis and encourage reusing containers and bottles, as well as being in close contact with products and food items.

Here are a few things you can put in place in preparation to reopen:

Social distancing

  • Keep entrance door open so no one has to touch it, similarly with door to back room or any frequently touched areas

  • 2 meters distance between any person in store and in the queue

  • A limit of 2/3/4 customers in at once depending on the size of your shop, one in one out rule is useful here so customer in line know when to come in without a staff member monitoring

  • Advise customers to come shop alone if possible and make a list prior so that those in line do not wait too long

  • Markings inside and outside the store to keep customer aware of social distancing rules

  • A limited number of staff members on the shop floor, till, or back room so as not to overcrowd a space

  • Placing the customer’s shopping away from you when packing and paying so that they can grab their items without being too close

  • Card/ contactless payment preferred

Personal Protective Equipment

  • Have easy access to hand sanitiser, disposable gloves, and/ or masks when entering and working in the store

  • Hand sanitiser and anti bacterial spray can be bought in bulk and refilled for use in store

  • Single use disposable gloves can be biodegradable/ recyclable if made of nitrile, natural latex, or vinyl

  • Masks can be made of cotton or similar materials that can be washed after each use instead of singles use disposable masks

  • Ensuring aprons, towels, or cloths are cleaned daily


  • More regular and robust cleaning checklist and sanitisation protocol may be required for staff to go through daily, especially on frequent touch points such as card machines, door handles, scoops, utensils, baskets, liquid taps, and food containers, lids, or jars

  • Customers may not be allowed for some time to bring their own containers to refill, unless they have been sterilised beforehand or are only touched by the customer

  • Products may have to be pre-packaged into paper bags of varying quantities for customers to grab and go, preventing them from touching surfaces, food, or utensils and staying in store for too long

Staff members

  • Checking for best before dates and discounting items that are nearing their out of dates

  • Opening hours may have to be reduced, as staff members that are high risk may not be able to come into work and as more time is needed to clean and sanitise at the beginning and end of each day

  • Minimum spend of £10 so daily sales targets are achieved despite limited opening hours and decrease in customers

Supply chain

  • Suppliers negatively affected by Covid-19 and the consequences of lockdown may have limits on their supply

  • many items may not be available or take longer to be delivered in store, which affects stocks and waiting time for certain items, communicate this to customers so they are not disappointed if what they are looking for is unavailable

  • In particular staple items such as flour, baking yeast, oats, rice, pasta etc can be harder to procure, offer alternatives such as spelt flour, lentil pasta, barley flakes, baking soda etc.

Click and collect + Deliveries

  • Introducing a click and collect service allows customers to shop and pay online, and pick up in store without having to come in or touch anything

  • Deliveries within a few km radius helps those that may not be able to come to the store for pick up - this will be more work for staff but does ensure the safety of customers and limits the flow of people in store

  • A click&collect and delivery service may be a way for the shop to reopen for business without having customers in at all


Salomé Savary

writes blog posts on all things zero waste, from cooking tips to travelling hacks. She is passionate about encouraging others to adopt low waste habits in any and every aspect of their lives.


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