Waitrose trials ‘bring-your-own containers’ scheme to reduce plastic waste

4 June 2019, 13:22

Customers in Oxford will be able to try out the new initiative
Customers in Oxford will be able to try out the new initiative. Picture: Getty Images
Naomi Bartram

By Naomi Bartram

Waitrose's 'unpacked' concept could save thousands of tonnes of packaging and plastic.

Waitrose is the latest shopping giant to take big steps when it comes to cutting down on their plastic use.

The grocery store has now it’s has launched a new scheme where customers are able to refill their own containers with a range of products.

'Waitrose Unpacked initiative', which is currently being tested at a shop in Oxford, will see hundreds of products put into special dispensers.

Customers can use their own refillable containers or borrow a box (for a £5 deposit) which they would return on their next visit.

The trial includes fresh fruit, vegetables, pasta, rice, cereals and lentils, as well as freshly ground coffee, detergent and washing up liquid.

Waitrose have introduced 'refill' stations
Waitrose have introduced 'refill' stations. Picture: Getty Images

And that's not all, as Waitrose have introduced the UK’s first supermarket “pick and mix” for frozen fruit, while plastic has also been removed from flowers and plants and replaced with 100 %recyclable craft paper.

Read More: Waitrose urgently recall food product over fears it may contain broken glass

To top it off, shoppers will be able to get wine and beer "on tap" as part of the scheme.

The trial run will last for 11 weeks and finish on August 18, with Waitrose determined to save on thousands of tonnes of unnecessary plastic and packaging.

Tor Harris, a spokesperson for Waitrose & Partners, explained: “We are determined to build on the work we’ve already done to reduce packaging, and this test will take our efforts to a whole new level as we 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.”

Read More: Woman shocked to find she'd been charged £4,600 for her Waitrose food delivery

Greenpeace UK ocean plastics campaigner Ariana Densham added: “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.

“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.”