Today's program : Let's Loop but not Sabotage

Welcome to "nouveau monde", sort of a "nouveau genre" newsletter to better understand how to make the world better through the lens of retail. This is #29!

Welcome to nouveau monde -- a newsletter from Phil Jeudy and Anthony Puech about sustainability and retail. You can read what this is all about here. If you like what you read, please consider forwarding it to a friend or two. You can also click the button below to subscribe.

This week program is about a Kroger brand entering the Loop program, and - another - gig economy protest, this time against Instacart.

Things move fast nowadays, we’re really happy to help you get the right tips on those two matters and be inspired…

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Today's newsletter is 973 words, a 4-minute read.


by Phil

Kroger banner Fred Meyer will begin experimenting with reusable grocery packaging in Portland, Ore., next month, a pilot that follows successful trials of the Loop service at grocers in France and Japan.

In case you don’t know, Fred Meyer is an American chain of hypermarket superstores founded in 1931 in Portland, Oregon, USA (guess, what, by Fred G. Meyer). The stores are found in the western U.S., within the states of Oregon, Washington, Idaho, and Alaska. The company merged with Kroger in 1998, though the stores are still branded Fred Meyer (otherwise you would know).

The service requires a dedicated Loop area - which will feature products from independent and global suppliers - with customers paying a deposit for products in reusable containers and returning them for Loop to collect, clean and return to the manufacturers for refill.

Customers pay a deposit — ranging from 15 cents for a bottle of Coca-Cola to $10 for a stainless steel container of Clorox wipes — in addition to the price of their item. When customers are finished with the container, they can return it to the store and get their deposit refunded through Loop’s app. Loop collects the containers, cleans them and returns them to manufacturers to be refilled.

In France, Loop is used by Carrefour and Metro for example.

Carrefour became one of the world's first retailer to offer Loop reuse system in-store. "The fight against overwrapping and all-plastic packaging must be embodied in everyday life locations. It is essential that large retailers like Carrefour adopt circular economy solutions. This is what will enable us to change at scale. The initiative to reuse packaging via the Loop solution is a step in the right direction. Tomorrow, everyone should be able to consume their everyday products in reusable containers. This is how we will reduce the amount of single-use plastic at the source and meet the objectives of the anti-waste law for a circular economy." said Barbara Pompili, France’s Minister for ecological transition.

"For several years now, METRO has been raising awareness among restaurant owners to the challenges of their ecological footprint with its 'My Sustainable Restaurant' offer and developing offers and solutions to help them to take the first step towards reducing it. The collaboration with the Loop team now allows us in France to work with our suppliers on a circular model that reduces the amount of discarded packaging by going through a reuse stage before the final stage of recycling, " explains Marie Garnier, Director Quality and Sustainable Development at METRO France.

In all, Loop says, 191 stores and restaurants worldwide will be selling products in reusable packages by the first quarter of 2022, up from just a dozen stores in Paris at the end of 2020.

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by Anthony

We've already talked about abuse in the gig economy, coming from our giant "leaders" of tech companies.

Yet, this story certainly isn't finished yet and maybe we might consider a shift in the whole economy when this will be history.

This time, let's talk about the next big IPO company : Instacart.

If you don't know Instacart, it's your personal shopper for groceries : they offer a wide variety of stores where you can shop while staying on your couch and a gig worker will go to the store, pick the items for you and deliver them in 30 minutes or 2 hours.

Of course, in a time of pandemic, Instacart and other similar services have seen a huge rise in their use and the company is now valued $39 billon.

This rise certainly didn't come with better working conditions apparently, at least for the "Gig Worker Collective", a San Francisco based non-profit composed of some of its 500,000 workforce.

In a recent statement, the collective went as far as asking customers to delete the Instacart app and not using it until Instacart fixes some points.

By doing so, the collective really cuts off the hand that feeds its workers. Let's try and understand what it asks in its statement :

  • Instacart shoppers must be paid by order, and not by batch. In 2019, when Apoorva Mehta publicly apologized for supplementing pay with tips in response to our protests, the company lowered the base pay floor from $10 to $7. But that’s not even the worst part — that $7 figure could cover up to three orders at once. If we shopped a single order, the base pay would be $7, but if we shopped three orders at once, the base pay would be $7 for the lot. Instead of a shopper fulfilling three orders for a total of $30 base, we now do it for a $7 base. This is effectively a 76% cut to base pay, and is unacceptable.

  • Instacart must re-introduce item commission. When Instacart lowered our base pay, it also removed item commission. The $7 base pay was supposed to be a floor that would raise depending on the size of the order. However, nearly every order now pays $7 regardless of the size. A single two item order pays $7, and a triple 50 item order pays $7. Item commission ensures that workers are paid for their time, since the more items that are in the order, the longer it takes to fill.

  • Instacart’s rating system can no longer unfairly punish shoppers for issues outside their control. For example, the company has an issue with customer fraud that is unfairly impacting workers. Instacart’s lacking fraud detection ability and policies make it very easy for customers to get free groceries by falsely marking items as missing/damaged, with the blame constantly falling on the shopper. Even when we provide photos of deliveries, Instacart can either lower our rating (which prevents us from seeing good offers for weeks), or deactivate us from the platform entirely. A single 4-star rating is enough to affect our pay for weeks. There’s even a Facebook group of 2,000 of these shoppers, the majority of who were deactivated for this reason. Instacart’s inability to properly investigate customer complaints should not result in blame unfairly placed on shoppers.

  • Instacart shoppers need occupational death benefits. Working for Instacart is not safe, and workers must be protected on the job. The last 18 months have been especially dangerous for Instacart shoppers. The company refused to provide sick pay for shoppers who tested positive for COVID, even when one shopper was on a ventilator. We had to walk off the job in order for Instacart to address this and change their policy. Coronavirus aside, shopper Lynn Murray was killed while shopping for a customer during a mass shooting. While Instacart’s corporate employees spent these last 18 months working from home, shoppers were risking their lives while the company did nothing to protect them. Instead, they quadrupled their workforce with desperate people in need of income, using them to bring down pay and replace any shopper who knew their worth.

  • The default tip must be raised to at least 10% for every single order. Instacart has been playing with our tips since 2016 — first replacing them with a service fee that the company said went to us (even though they pocketed it), then outright stealing our tips, then using tips to supplement pay, and more recently testing out a user interface without a default tip set. Instacart shoppers are bleeding out of both ends — the base pay is now far lower than it has been AND the company is discouraging customers from tipping. A 5% default tip is abysmal when paired with Instacart’s low pay.

The collective says that asking to delete the app is the only solution they see to get Instacart to move as they are only care about money.

Indeed, as long as we'll manage our lives only with $$, we'll miss a great part of the value created or the social or natural destruction we make.

Time to change the system and delete toxic apps !

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Quick Hits

Vincent Panneels, founder of 20/CENT Retail, working in the Retail space for some time now, interviewed Charlotte De Vroey, Sustainability Manager at Delhaize Belgium. A decade ago, the Belgian retailer started a sustainability department and to mark the occasion, Charlotte took time to discuss with Vincent about the evolution of the department and some of the concrete achievements from the past years.

20/CENT Retail ’s podcast lets you discover different concepts, innovations, the leading industry events, and explores some of the latest trends shaping the retail industry today, and tomorrow. 

Bonus Track by Anthony

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