News | Published June 04 2019

Waitrose trial package-free produce

Waitrose has launched a “bold” new trial which seeks to reduce packaging.

From today, customers at the Botley Road store in Oxford can use their own containers to buy products like rice, cereal, pasta and lentils.

To encourage shoppers to buy the packaging-free options, most produce at the refillable stations will be up to 15 per cent cheaper than packaged alternatives.

Alongside the dry foods on offer, Waitrose will also offer a “pick and mix” frozen fruit selection, as well a selection of 160 loose fruit and vegetables. The store will also allow customers to fill reusable bottles with four varieties of wine and beer on tap.

In what Waitrose describes as a “first”, the branch will offer a “borrow a box” scheme. Refillable boxes can be taken home by customers for a £5 deposit, which is refundable on return.

Ariana Densham, oceans campaigner for Greenpeace UK, said: “This is a genuinely bold step from Waitrose to trial food dispensers so customers can use refillable tubs and jars.

“Lots of supermarkets are starting to sell loose fruit and vegetables, but this kind of innovation could spark a refill culture that’s so desperately needed to cut plastics in mainstream shops.

“The top 10 UK supermarkets produce 810,000 tonnes of throwaway packaging each year, so we need to see other major retailers taking plastic reduction seriously and following Waitrose’s lead.”

The issue of waste, and in particular single-use plastic, has become increasingly prominent following programmes such as the BBC's Blue Planet which have highlighted the material’s detrimental effect on the environment. Supermarkets have already taken measures to reduce their plastic waste, with Waitrose no longer selling 5p single-use carrier bags, and Morrisons introducing paper bags.

Tor Harris, head of corporate social responsibility at Waitrose, said: “[We want to] help the growing number of customers who want to shop in a more sustainable way.

“This test has huge potential to shape how people might shop with us in the future so it will be fascinating to see which concepts our customers have an appetite for.

“We know we’re not perfect and have more to do but we believe this is an innovative way to achieve something different.”

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Authored by

Benjamin Goodwin
June 04 2019

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