A Birmingham-based zero waste supermarket has converted one of its sites in the city into a café bar and refillable takeaway wine shop.
The Clean Kilo has rebranded its Digbeth site as Kilo Ziro to distinguish it from its supermarket brand. It continues to operate its other original Clean Kilo shop in Bourneville in the city and has opened another in Moseley.
The Kilo Ziro bar offers a self-serve range of five on-tap wines from 20-litre refillable kegs supplied by Sustainable Wine Solutions. It also carries 25 wines for off-sales in deposit-paid bottles that customers can have refilled or recycled.
Kilo Ziro is serving cider made from locally-sourced apples, and cocktails made from sustainable and local spirit brands, flavoured with citric acid instead of whole- fruit garnishes to cut down on food waste.
“The pandemic changed a lot of consumer shopping habits,” says co-founder Jeanette Wong, “and we found with Digbeth, which has a lot of surrounding offices, that things didn’t return to normal, and that really affected sales.
“As a grocery store – where people are encouraged to bring their own containers to cut plastic pollution – it was difficult.
“We didn’t want to give up on the concept of what we do, which is local sourcing and reducing packaging, so we thought about what we could do in the space that would fit Digbeth.
“The council’s pandemic recovery grant gave us the confidence to diversify the business and move the contents of the shop to Moseley.
“Bourneville and Moseley are more residential and Digbeth has an established social scene around bars and restaurants.
“We had always thought about refill wines for the shops. To get a premises licence to sell three lines of wine wasn’t going to work for us, but to do it on a bigger scale with the café bar was.
“We think about not just about each product, but about how each one comes to us and about how it’s disposed of – the whole cycle.
“There are so many spirits being distilled around Birmingham and local craft beer and cider is easy to find here. But we won’t take bottles or cans, only keg.
“We have two carbon-negative local gins and Scotch whisky from a carbon-neutral distillery.”
Kilo Ziro is also selling spirits in bulk refillable “eco-pouches”.
“There’s lots of experimenting going on,” Wong adds. “When we do use fruit, we use the skins to make sugar syrup [for cocktails]. If we have any wine wastage when we pull the first glass out of the tap wall, we use it to make vinegar. We have a new cocktail menu which incorporates waste fruit and veg.”
Former menswear designer Wong and business partner and ex-chemist Tom Pell set up The Clean Kilo in 2018, specialising in loose food ingredients to cut down on packaging waste.
“Between 2018 and 2021, 500 zero-waste shops appeared in the UK, and we were one of the first five,” Wong says. “Taking that idea into the drinks and hospitality industry can hopefully raise awareness that it can be done and be a positive change for the environment.”