Berkeley Salmon Drowns in Packaging, and Andronicos Doesn’t Care

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A quick interaction tonight convinced me that either Andronicos market doesn’t really care about the environment, they don’t give their store managers any autonomy, or the store manager thinks his employees are dumb, or all of the above.

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I went to Andronicos on Shattuck to buy some pre-cooked salmon and veggies for dinner, but the person helping me said he couldn’t combine the veggies in the same plastic container as the fish (it had enough room for a whole run of salmon). Other area markets will combine foods to save excessive packaging, simply weighing and pricing the first item, then taking the incremental weight and price of the second item, and applying two price stickers to the container.

This particular guy seemed new, so I asked if he could ask someone else (I didn’t want to buy the veggies if it generated a whole other unnecessary plastic container).  The other person shook her head: no absolutely not, that’s against our rules.

Kind of shocking, not in general, but for Berkeley.

So I passed on the veggies, but decided to find the store manager and suggest a rule change. I’ve long ago given up on fighting chronic environmental ignorance (e.g. coffee places that give you two paper cups unnecessarily, ‘so you don’t burn yourself.’) But this seemed like such an obvious and easy win….

The store manager showed up and sputtered out a series of lame excuses when I suggested his staff be allowed to combine food in containers to not waste plastic.  “I could have them do it for you this one time, but I’d have to ask corporate to get the rule changed; It would be a major shrinkage issue for us. And we can’t risk combining raw veggies and cooked veggies in the same container… etc.” He didn’t seem to care much about the packaging waste.

What he really meant is it’s a hassle he didn’t want to deal with, plus he thinks combining items in packaging is too difficult, his staff would probably screw it up, resulting in losses or customer complaints (fwiw, they seemed pretty smart, I think they could handle it).

He also added, unfortunately, “how dare you suggest that Andronicos doesn’t care about the environment?” I told him that was exactly what I was suggesting, and he should pass the feedback along to corporate. He wrote that down (or something). I’ll send them a link to this post as well.

UPDATE April 26, 2016. Impressive response… I got a personal email from the CEO of Andronicos, acknowledging this issue, less than 24 hours after my post (here’s an excerpt):

“The point you make about the excess packaging is valid, and something that we can improve upon. For the record, what our Team Mates most likely tried to convey is that our systems and scales—most industry systems—are not able  to combine items with different retails in one container. It can be done—usually with a manual work-around that has one product placed on a container or plate, weighed, labeled and tagged, and then repeat same process for second item, and combine. Either method is inefficient with regard to waste, though I do believe that we can, and should, think through the least onerous and environmental method we can deliver.”

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