Bringing reusable bags to stores is now second nature to many shoppers, but will they bring their own containers, too? British supermarket chain Waitrose will find out during an 11-week trial in its Oxford store called Waitrose Unpacked.
Customers are encouraged to take refillable containers to restock on options such as a choice of four types of beer and wines, detergent, coffee and 28 dry products including cereals, lentils and pastas. Other unpacked concepts simply eliminate plastic— such as 160 loose vegetable and fruit products, and flowers and plants wrapped in 100% recyclable craft paper rather than plastic. Waitrose also offers a frozen pick and mix station, where customers can choose their own blends of cherries, pineapple, blueberries and other chilly fruits.
Waitrose launched its Unpacked initiative in response to customers requesting more sustainable ways to shop. “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,” Waitrose declared in a press release.
Unpacked customers will also benefit from lower prices, since shoppers often pay for excess packaging they don’t even want. The BBC reported that produce in the supermarket’s refill stations would be up to 15 percent cheaper and frozen fruit would also be less expensive.
For a £5 deposit, shoppers can load their groceries into a borrowed box from Waitrose to take home. When they return the box, the supermarket refunds their money.
Waitrose will continue to offer food in its regular packaging, which will provide a useful control group for the unpacked experiment. The trial ends August 18. We hope the verdict is a win for sustainability.
Image via Waitrose