Waitrose launch packaging-free trial in Oxford

Written by

Lewis Morgan

Posted on

June 4, 2019

Independent retailers and delicatessens have been selling packaging-free food for a while now, but in recent months major UK retailers have been trialling it too, and Waitrose are the latest to do so.

Starting this week, a Waitrose supermarket in Oxford is trialling multiple variations of packaging-free food designed to eliminate needless plastic waste.

The refill station at Waitrose in Oxford

The full breakdown on Waitrose’s ‘Unpacked’ scheme:

  • Produce unpacked – 160 loose fruit and vegetable products will be available at the store – the most loose fruit and vegetable lines offered by any national supermarket.
  • Frozen pick and mix – Frozen mango, strawberries, blueberries, cherries, pineapple and raspberries are packaging free and will be available as pick and mix.
  • Plastic removed from flowers and plants – Plastic wrap has been removed from all flowers and indoor plants and replaced with 100% recyclable and 100% PEFC certified craft paper.
  • Detergent and washing up liquid refillables – Waitrose & Partners is the first supermarket to partner with Ecover and provide an automatic detergent and washing up liquid dispenser where customers will be able to refill their reusable Ecover containers.
  • Wine and beer refillables – Four different wines and four different beers available on tap to take home in reusable bottles to cut down on the use of glass bottles.
  • Coffee refills – Customers can grind one of four coffees in store to take home in a reusable container to reduce glass and plastic packaging.
  • Essential refillables – 28 products including pasta, rice, grains, couscous, lentils, cereals, dried fruit and seeds have been taken out of packaging and will be available through dispensers.
  • Borrow-a-box scheme – In a UK first, shoppers can borrow-a-box from store to shop with and then take home before returning on their next visit.

Genuinely bold

The trial will last for 11 weeks and Waitrose are looking to receive as much feedback as possible. Green campaigners have already begun to provide their thoughts on the initiative:

Ariana Densham, ocean plastics 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, which is good, but more importantly this kind of innovation could spark a refill culture that’s so desperately needed to cut plastics in mainstream shops.”

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