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I have a vision for a model of grocery store that would buy food in bulk and package on-site into packaging which is 100% reusable or truly compostable (unlike many types of so-called "compostable plastics" which require specific conditions to truly break down). Customers would receive a hefty deposit when they return the packaging, and the store would wash and re-use on site.

I've been thinking through how each of the items I regularly purchase at the grocery store could be packaged to fit this model, and a few things have me stuck. The first is cheese.

What sort of packaging could be used for cheese, that meets requirements for safety and storage, but could be readily and repeatedly re-used? What sort of complications would this introduce?

The first thing that comes to mind is wax, however I wonder about issues of individually wrapped cheeses sticking together, and the fact that most wax is made from petroleum. Also it seems that expensive equipment would be needed to melt the returned was pieces and reuse them for new blocks of cheese.

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Depends the type of cheese (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Types_of_cheese).

Hard (type gouda) to half-hard half-soft (type monastery cheese) cheeses have a more or less hard crust (rind?). There is no more packaging needed if sold in one piece (unless maybe the rind is edible and should be wrapped for keeping it clean).

Slices of hard/semi-hard cheese: let the customers bring their own containers. Otherwise I think you will need paper (waxed? or with a plastic foil) that can be recycled. Or put them in reusable plastic trays.

Soft cheese (type brie) could be sold in one piece (with crust/rind) and put in a plastic reusable container. Typically brie and camembert are sold in round wooden boxes (not reusable really, and nowadays they wrap the piece of cheese in plastic and put that in a wooden box)

And of course there are the fresh cheeses than can be sold in closed reusable plastic or glass jars.

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    I hadn't though of "bring your own" -- such an obvious solution! – LShaver Aug 16 '18 at 1:57
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    As a side note: there are of course a lot of legal food regulations depending your country that will limit the choice of packaging or bring-your-own... – luc Nov 9 '18 at 20:18
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Locally some grocers buy whole cheeses and cut them onsite. The usual wrap is one or more layers of cling film. I don't think you could wash a reusable container for the price of a couple square feet of cling wrap.

The Bring Your Own Container has it's own costs: You need to ask someone to pick up your chunk and put it your container. More time, and time = money...

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