Réseau Vrac

Our background and milestones

How the association came about

In 2015, at a time when many entrepreneurs had nowhere to go for information on how to set up a packaging-free business, the need for a professional body became apparent. The association Zero Waste France set out to address the problem and Célia Rennesson agreed to take on the responsibility of the new entity, Packaging-free Network.
To Célia, the idea of an inter-professional association for the packaging-free sector made absolute sense. She had set up her own retail outlet in 2013 and was at a loss for information on regulations, hygiene and suppliers, not to mention in need of training in all these areas.
On 10 March 2016, Gérard Bellet, Laura Caniot, Johanna Le Mau, Sébastien Leflond, Didier Onraita and Ludvina Sanchez and Célia founded Packaging-free Network, as a not-for-profit association with the aim of promoting packaging-free shopping and encouraging sustainable, responsible consumption.

Our missions

To achieve that aim, the association has three missions :

  1. To structure and professionalise the packaging-free sector by leading positive lobbying campaigns, publishing informative guides, offering training in the regulatory framework and good hygiene practices and setting up task groups to draw up guidelines for the sector on a number of major topics.
  2. Promote the sector and its ecosystem, forming a virtuous circle of tools, services, focus groups and partners to bolster members’ business :
    • a member area of the website with a directory map, a supplier catalogue a document library and a forum ;
    • business intelligence thanks to the review Magazine du Vrac and monthly updates on store openings
    • the Salon du Vrac – the packaging-free trade fair – a key event for the promotion of the sector
    • carefully selected financial partners to fund projects and help business growth
    • focus groups, in particular aiming to reduce waste throughout the entire value chain
  3. Encourage packaging-free shopping by informing consumers through publications and events and offering guidance to local authorities on how to develop networks.

2016

Foundation of Packaging-free Network

10 March 2016
10 March 2016

Packaging-free Network was founded on 10 March 2016 in Paris with the aim of promoting packaging-free shopping as a sustainable, responsible consumer habit.

First Legal Handbook for the packaging-free sector

September 2016
September 2016

The Legal Handbook for the packaging-free sector is a reference document for retailers. Authored by Lucia Pereira, our Legal Affairs Manager, the guide clarifies the regulations applicable to the sale of loose products, both food and non-foodstuffs. It is available to association members via the document library in the Member Area of the website. It is updated regularly.

First “Opening a packaging-free shop” training course

November 2016
November 2016

In November 2016, board member Didier Onraita led the first “Opening a packaging-free shop” training course with a group of 15 participants.

Packaging-free Network membership 2016

December 2016
December 2016

By the end of the year, Packaging-free Network had registered 205 members.

2017

First training course and first Good Hygiene Practice guide

November 2017
November 2017

Maryse Noël, our hygienist trainer led our first “Good hygiene practices and HACCP for packaging free retail” course, in Paris in November 2017. Seven retailers took part.
We designed the training course and the Good Hygiene Practice guide to establish standards for retailers, promote safety and safeguard public health.

Packaging-free Network membership 2017

December 2017
December 2017

By the end of the year, Packaging-free Network had registered 252 members.

2018

Olive oil refills permitted

January 2018
January 2018

Thanks to a lobbying campaign led by Packaging-free Network, the sale of olive oil refills was authorised in France in January 2018. Retailers need to apply to France Agrimer for authorization. Customers must ask to be served and containers may not exceed five litres.

The more the merrier

February 2018
February 2018

We welcomed our first trainee, Sophie, to the team in February 2018.
She worked on the association’s communications. Her traineeship ended in June 2018.

The first Salon du Vrac

26 March 2018
26 March 2018

The first trade fair for packaging-free goods, services and fittings took place on 26 March 2018. Some 200 visitors attended the fair at Halle Pajol in Paris to browse the stands proudly presented by 30 exhibitors, all representatives of a fast-growing sector.

The more the merrier

June 2018
June 2018

Élise worked as a volunteer with us from June to December 2018, helping to structure the association and contributing to development.

Our first base

1 October 2018
1 October 2018

On 1 October 2018 we moved into our offices, in the 18th arrondissement of Paris, in premises lent to us by association member Le Comptoir Colonial.

The more the merrier

1 October 2018
1 October 2018

On 1 October 2018, our first community service volunteer joined us following our approval in August 2018.
Pauline joined Célia and Élise for an 8-month placement, providing valuable help.

Packaging-free Network membership 2018

December 2018
December 2018

By the end of the year, Packaging-free Network had registered 616 members.

2019

The more the merrier

4 February 2019
4 February 2019

Chloé Liard joined Packaging-free Network on 4 February 2019 as Business Development Manager. She was our first employee to be awarded a permanent contract.

Reuse of containers for detergents and cosmetics permitted

April 2019
April 2019

Thanks to the association, refills of detergents and cosmetics is now authorized in containers provided by consumers, subject to conditions.

Second Salon du Vrac trade fair

27 May 2019
27 May 2019

The second Salon du Vrac, a key event for the packaging-free sector, was held on Monday 27 May at Café A. Some 1,000 visitors attended the fair to browse the stands proudly presented by 60 exhibitors offering products, services and merchandising for packaging-free retailers.

Packaging-free Network goes to Belgium

June 2019
June 2019

On 13 June 2019 Packaging-free Network expanded its operations to Belgium. Author of “Le zéro déchet sans complexes" and blogger at " zerocarabistouille.be ", Sylvie Droulans joined Packaging-free Network as Country Manager to boost the growth of the packaging-free sector in Belgium.

Approval of Packaging-free Network amendments to the bill on the circular economy

13 December 2019
13 December 2019

On 13 December 2019 the amendments proposed by Packaging-free Network to the bill on the circular economy were approved by the French National Assembly. The amendments provided :

  • A definition of packaging-free retail (article 5 Bis B) – a world first.
  • That any goods be sold loose, barring exceptions relating to the safeguard of public health. Consumers may therefore purchase packaging-free products bearing provenance and quality labels such as CDO, PGI and PDO.
  • By law, consumers have the right to refill their own containers and, provided that instructions are clearly visible, are responsible for the cleanliness of their containers.

Packaging-free Network membership 2019

December 2019
December 2019

By the end of the year, Packaging-free Network had registered 1170 members.

2020

Approval of the bill on the circular economy and waste reduction

11 February 2020
11 February 2020

Thanks to lobbying campaigns led by Packaging-free Network in 2019, the bill on the circular economy and waste reduction became law on 11 February 2020.

Publication of the first European survey of packaging-free specialist retailers

30 June 2020
30 June 2020

We teamed up with the NGO Zero Waste Europe and Eunomia to produce this, the first European survey of packaging-free retail.

Publication of our first book, Vrac : Mode d’Emploi

2 September 2020
2 September 2020

The book covers the history of packaging-free retail and the importance of adopting an environmentally friendly approach, the sorts of goods available from specialists, the best containers to use and advice on how to become a more ecological and economical consumer.

Third Salon du Vrac trade fair

7&8 September 2020
7&8 September 2020

The third Salon du Vrac took place on 7–8 September 2020 at La Cité Fertile in Pantin, on the outskirts of Paris. It attracted 100 exhibitors and some 2,000 visitors.