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Why this grocery chain is ditching single-use bottled water

If you walk down the drinks aisle inside one of New Seasons Market’s Portland, Oregon, grocery stores later this month, you’ll notice something missing: A shelf that used to hold bottled water will be mostly empty, with plastic and glass bottles replaced by a smaller number of reusable bottles. Another empty shelf below it will be covered with a sign boosting reuse.

New Seasons Market, a chain of 19 stores primarily based in Oregon, and New Leaf Community Markets, its California-based subsidiary, will no longer sell standard single-use bottled water, starting April 22. “We’ve been thinking about packaging in general for a long time,” says sustainability manager Athena Petty. Two years ago, managers decided to begin planning how to eliminate bottled water from store shelves.

The sustainability challenge from bottled water keeps growing. By one estimate, more than half a trillion plastic bottles will be produced this year, and the majority won’t be recycled. As consumers have become more aware of the problem—and the fact that millions of tons of plastic ends up in the ocean—some water brands have started shifting to different types of packaging. Aluminum cans are especially popular. But New Seasons Market’s decision applies to all aluminum and glass bottles as well.

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