Dispensers for pasta and rice, beer and wine on tap, refillable containers, and pick ‘n’ mix frozen berries: How Waitrose is planning to trial a groundbreaking in-store overhaul to slash plastic pollution

  • Shoppers will be able to buy 28 items from dispensers rather than in packs
  • Customers will also be able to purchase wine and beer on tap
  • The initiative will be tested at a Waitrose in Oxford with a view to expanding

By Sean Poulter Consumer Affairs Editor For The Daily Mail

Published: 19:01 EDT, 3 June 2019 | Updated: 19:08 EDT, 3 June 2019

Waitrose is to test ‘refill stations’ on a range of products in a move against waste and packaging.

Shoppers will be able to buy 28 items from dispensers rather than in packs including pasta, rice, grains, couscous, lentils, dried fruit and seeds, cereals and freshly ground coffee.

Customers will also be able to purchase wine and beer on tap, as well as washing-up and laundry liquid in refillable bottles.

Waitrose is to test ‘refill stations’ on a range of products in a move against waste and packaging, including frozen pick and mix vegetables

Customers can bring in their own bottles, cartons and jars to be filled but the store will also sell refillable containers in different sizes for those who want them. There will also be a pick-and-mix for frozen berries.

The initiative will be tested at a Waitrose in Oxford with a view to expanding some or all of the ideas more widely.

In a UK first, there will also be a borrow-a-box scheme for customers to take purchases home before returning it on their next visit, doing away with plastic bags.

The upmarket store is promoting other measures under the brand Waitrose Unpacked such as selling 160 lines of fresh fruit and vegetables loose. This return to a traditional greengrocer-style approach is more than any other supermarket currently offers.

Plastic wrapping has also been removed from all flowers and indoor plants in favour of 100 per cent recyclable craft paper.

The supermarket hopes the refill zones of pasta, rice and grains will reduce plastic waste

Waitrose Unpacked will run for 11 weeks until August 18 and customers will be asked for feedback via the retailer’s website, Twitter and Instagram.

The scheme is the latest evidence of the influence of the Daily Mail’s decade-long drive to end the blight of plastic waste and pollution. Karen Graley, packaging manager at Waitrose, said: ‘Like the Mail’s campaign, we recognise that reducing plastics is a really important issue for the environment and for customers.’

Packaged equivalents of the products at the refill stations will stay on sale but prices for refills will be up to 15 per cent cheaper to encourage shoppers to take the greener option.

Ariana Densham, ocean plastics campaigner for Greenpeace UK, said: ‘This is a bold step to trial food dispensers. This kind of innovation could spark a refill culture that’s so desperately needed.

‘The top ten UK supermarkets produce 810,000 tons of throwaway packaging each year.’

Other stores are also working to cut packaging. Iceland has started a range of measures to reduce waste and remove plastic from own-label goods and Morrisons is opening plastic-free fruit and vegetable areas in 60 stores ahead of a wider roll-out.

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