Fruit and vegetables from a supermarket with associated plastic waste

Waitrose raises the bar on refillables with innovative plastics-free trial

Supermarket giant Waitrose has today (4 June) announced news of the most comprehensive refillable trial to date by a leading UK grocery retailer.

The ‘Waitrose Unpacked’ trial will be run in an Oxford store, offering customers a wide range of items that can be purchased in reusable packaging – from frozen goods, rice and grains to wine and beer in refillable bottles.

In addition, 160 loose fruit and vegetable products will be available at the store. A ‘borrow-a-box’ scheme has also been launched, which shoppers can take home to return on their next visit.

Waitrose has said the trial has the potential to save “thousands of tonnes” of unnecessary packaging.

The test will run until 18 August as the supermarket seeks as much feedback as possible. Packaged equivalents of the products will remain in their usual areas to create an effective test. The supermarket has said the “test is designed to help determine how customers might be prepared to shop differently in the future”.

We welcome Waitrose’s innovative and wide-ranging refillable trial, encourage other supermarkets to follow suit and urge the UK Government to provide legislative support behind the transition away from single-use packaging.

Juliet Phillips, Ocean Campaigner, said: “Waitrose has shown that it’s possible to fundamentally rethink our relationship with single-use packaging. It’s time for policy-makers to cement this step-change into legislation which catalyses wholesale change across the grocery retail sector.”

Waitrose came in third place our 2018 survey of the plastic habits of the UK’s largest supermarkets, conducted in partnership with Greenpeace UK.

The report, Checking out on Plastics, contained the recommendation for supermarkets to “significantly expand refillable and reusable packaging options and unpackaged ranges across stores and product lines and incentivise consumer use”.