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Waitrose to test refillable zones and frozen pick and mix areas to reduce unnecessary plastic use

Waitrose & Partners is exploring refillable zones, a frozen ‘pick and mix’ and a borrow-a-box scheme

Waitrose & Partners is exploring refillable zones, a frozen ‘pick and mix’ and a borrow-a-box scheme as part of a unique test that has the potential to save thousands of tonnes of unnecessary plastic and packaging. 

The test is designed to help determine how consumers might be prepared to shop differently in the future. 

Waitrose environment manager Ben Thomas will be speaking at The Recycling Event on 2 July discussing how the retailer is reducing its plastic packaging. Book your ticket now to this vital event: https://www.therecyclingevent.com/

From this, the retailer has transformed its Botley Road shop in Oxford and taken hundreds of products out of their packaging.  

The supermarket has said that it has the largest number of loose fruit and vegetable lines of any national food retailer. 

This test will run for a period of 11 weeks until 18 August as the retailer aims to gather as much feedback as possible. 

Packaged equivalents of the items will remain in their usual area to create an effective test.  

The concepts of the test include: 

  • Produce unpacked – 160 loose fruit and veg products will be available in the store 
  • Frozen pick and mix – frozen mango, strawberries, blueberries, cherries, pineapple and raspberries are packaging free and will be available as a pick and mix 
  • Plastic wrap has been removed from all flowers and indoor plants and replaced with 100% recyclable and 100% PEFC certified craft paper 
  • By partnering with Ecover, Waitrose is the “first supermarket” to provide an automatic detergent and washing up liquid dispenser where consumers will be able to refill their reusable Ecover containers 
  • Four different wines and beers will be available on tap to take home in reusable bottles to cut down on the use of glass bottles 
  • Customers can grind one of four coffees in store to take home in a reusable container to reduce glass and plastic use  
  • 28 items including pasta, rice, grains, couscous, lentils, cereals, dried fruit and leeks have been taken out of packaging and will be available through dispensers 
  • Borrow-a-box scheme – shoppers can borrow a box from store to shop with and then take home before returning on their next visit.  

Waitrose head of corporate social responsibility Tor Harris said: “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.” 


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