Waitrose is playing its part in reducing plastic by asking customers to bring their own containers in a new trial.
Aiming to reduce single use packaging by removing plastic from fruit, vegetables, flowers and plants, the trial – called Unpacked – hopes to reduce waste drastically.
Customers will also be able to use their own containers to buy ‘unpacked’ items such as pasta, cereals, coffee, and rice from dispensers throughout the store.
The supermarket chain also claims it will be the first to offer ‘pick and mix’ frozen fruit, which will be available to purchase using customers’ own containers.
As reported by The Independent, the trial will run for 11 weeks until August 18 in the Botley Road store in Oxford. If successful, the concept will be rolled out to other Waitrose stores across the UK at a later date.
You don’t need to worry if you forget to bring a container either (I’m looking at everyone who has a cupboard full of carrier bags they never use), because the scheme also allows customers to ‘borrow a box’ whereby shoppers can pay a £5 deposit to take a box home before returning it on their next visit.
Tor Harris, head of corporate social responsibility for Waitrose, said the project has ‘huge potential’ to change the way people shop with the company in the future.
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.
Encouraging customers to make the most of the eco-friendly initiative, prices in the refillable section will be approximately 15 per cent cheaper than packaged items. So there’s really no excuse to avoid it.
As per Waitrose, 160 varieties of fruit and vegetables will be unpacked in store, while 48 products will be available to refill – including beer, wine, and cleaning products.
Customers will also be able to bring their own containers to the various food counters across the store.
Ariana Densham, an oceans campaigner for Greenpeace UK, praised the move:
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.
Hopefully the trial will be successful and other supermarkets will follow Waitrose’s lead in the near future.
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A Broadcast Journalism Masters graduate who went on to achieve an NCTJ level 3 Diploma in Journalism, Lucy has done stints at ITV, BBC Inside Out and Key 103. While working as a journalist for UNILAD, Lucy has reported on breaking news stories while also writing features about mental health, cervical screening awareness, and Little Mix (who she is unapologetically obsessed with).