France Bordeaux
Loss and waste
Social and Economic Equity
Supply & Distribution
Sustainable diets & Nutrition

La Recharge : The first grocery store without disposable packaging!


La Recharge

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The context

The Energy Transition for Green Growth Law (LTECV) of August 17, 2015, sets itself the objective of "combating waste and promoting the circular economy". In the sights of anti-waste and anti-waste policies: plastic and all these avatars.

Since July 2016, single-use plastic bags are prohibited. Before the ban, 5 billion single-use plastic bags were distributed in cash registers each year in France. Between 2020 and 2021, the plastic ban will gradually extend to new so-called “single-use” products such as disposable tableware, toillettes and straws in restaurants, cotton swabs or bottles of water in school canteens. These cascading prohibitions follow the provisions of the Egalim law of October 2018, which decided to abandon these plastic products.

But plastic is also found in huge quantities in food distribution. Each year, 5 million tonnes of packaging are thrown away in France, of which only 37% is recycled! On an individual scale, this represents 150 kg of household packaging discarded per person. However, there are few essential packaging and many products are thus overpackaged, not without consequence:

  • POLLUTION: The production of packaging is extremely greedy in energy and non-renewable and polluting resources. Packaging that has become waste, whether incinerated or buried, is still a source of pollution of water, soil and air.
  • POISON: The additives incorporated into the packaging (phthalate, bisphenol A) have been found to be toxic, favoring certain pathologies such as male sterility or breast cancer.
  • COST: Consumers pay twice the cost of packaging. A first time by purchasing overwrapped products (packaging corresponds on average to 20% of the final price of a product). A second time through their taxes (waste management costs 7 billion euros per year!).

The project

It is this observation which pushes two young graduates to launch in July 2014 "La Recharge", the first grocery store in France to operate without any disposable packaging. Located in the heart of the historic district of Bordeaux, this bulk grocery store sells all its products by weight or retail with the aim of reducing waste and the amount of household waste.

Inspired by a few similar initiatives abroad (in London, Barcelona, ​​but also in the United States) Jules Rivet and Guillaume De Sanderval take nine months to refine their offer, train with artisans and networks like Slow Food, find producers, convince banks and find premises. They are launching a contribution on the internet to complete their budget which exceeds their expectations and thus allows them to concretely set up their alternative grocery store project.

Today, a hundred producers from the South West have joined the adventure and allow the Bordeaux grocery store to present a wide choice of food products as well as hygiene, beauty and maintenance.

Inside, there are vegetables, fruits, but also flours, oils, cheeses, dairy products, cereals, solid soaps to cut, confectionery or wine, coffee, tea and spices. , up to the kitchen utensils! From small producers in Gironde, Dordogne, Charente and Lot-et-Garonne, all these products are fresh, seasonal, local and on short circuits. Guarantee of quality, the origin of each product is clearly identifiable on their labels.

How does zero waste racing work?

The idea is simple: customers are encouraged to bring their own containers (tupperware, crates, glass jars, cloth bag etc.) to reload them on site. Otherwise, the Refill has everything planned and has its own stock of containers that customers can buy and reuse later. And what cannot be sold in bulk like dairy products, is sold in returnable jars.

From the beginning to the end of the chain, this grocery store is waste free! Not only on the customer side since they also return their original containers to producers or go directly to the operator to fill their cans. The system of this grocery store also encourages to limit food waste. "You don't have to buy a kilo if you don't need it. Here, I want to test the hazelnut oil, I will be able to fill only half a bottle. It's cheaper, and we don't waste it. - Stéphanie, 37

La Recharge therefore offers local and quality products but also what to make your own vegetable garden with a wide choice of free and reproducible seeds through their partnership with the Kokopelli association.

"Recycling is not necessarily a solution but a lesser evil. So the idea is to reduce packaging at the source. " Jules Rivet, co-founder of Recharge


Verdict: happy customers!

The enthusiasm for the alternative model promoted by Recharge quickly overtook the two co-founders: after a stint on TV in the regional edition and several newspaper articles, the success of this atypical grocery store was not long in to unveil. The hundreds of people who follow each other every day have been seduced by this neighborhood grocery store that did not fall into the trap of a luxury grocery store. Indeed, the local products offered are cheaper than their packaged equivalents from organic stores because the lack of packaging and container reduces costs without compromising on quality.

The hard part is finally managing the multitude of people involved in the grocery supply chain. Because who says without packaging says work in short circuits and directly with each producer. The two co-founders are no longer sufficient to manage both the supply and customer relations part, and they hire! Today, La Recharge has inspired many other alternative projects across the country.

The little more

Available on their website, La Recharge offers recipe ideas based on the products offered in the grocery store. Do not hesitate to take a look because Jules Rivet himself illustrates the site with beautiful drawings!

La Recharge also offers a series of tasting courses to discover food production, processing, but also their stories, their markets, nutritional intake and health-related issues.

Finally, thanks to Enercoop Aquitaine, a young cooperative in Bordeaux, the grocery store obtains electricity from producers of renewable energy (wind, hydro, photovoltaic and biomass).

Rédigée par Julie Tourron, volontaire LFC - Mars 2020. 

Last modification : 30 Apr 2021.

La Recharge

38 Rue Sainte-Colombe 33000 Bordeaux France

« La Recharge », la première épicerie en France à fonctionner sans aucun emballage jetable. Située en plein cœur du quartier historique de Bordeaux, cette épicerie de vente en vrac vend tous ses produits au poids ou au détail avec pour objectif de réduire le gaspillage et la quantité de déchets ménagers.


Jules Rivet