Waitrose unveils ‘refillable zone’ in packaging-free trial

The dedicated refillable zone at the Botley Road Waitrose store in Oxford. Photo: Waitrose & Partners

Waitrose has unveiled a dedicated refillable zone in a unique trial to save unnecessary plastic and packaging.

In a first for UK supermarkets, the test zone at the Botley Road shop in Oxford offers a frozen ‘pick and mix’ and a borrow-a-box scheme, along with hundreds of products taken out of their packaging.

Waitrose said the shop has the largest number of loose fruit and vegetable lines of any national supermarket, has removed plastic wrap from its flowers and indoor plants and has launched refillable options for everything from wine to beer and cereals to coffees as well as cleaning products.

The trial, which will be branded strongly with ‘Waitrose Unpacked’ across the shop to maximise awareness, will run for a period of 11 weeks until 18 August. Packaged equivalents of the products will remain in their usual areas to create an effective test.

“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,” said Tor Harris, head of CSR for Waitrose & Partners.

The ‘Unpacked’ concepts include: 160 loose fruit and vegetable products; packaging-free frozen fruits available as pick and mix; flowers and indoor plants wrapped with 100% recyclable and 100% PEFC certified craft paper; detergent and washing up liquid refillables in partneship with Ecover containers; four different wines and four different beers available on tap to take home in reusable bottles; coffee refills and 28 essential products including pasta, rice, grains, couscous, lentils, cereals, dried fruit available through dispensers.

Shoppers can also borrow-a-box from store to shop with and then take home before returning on their next visit.