Waitrose launches packaging-free trial in fight against plastic waste

UK – The leading British supermarket Waitrose has launched a packaging-free trial at its store in Oxford in an effort to reduce plastic waste and its impact on the environment.

Customers will be able to buy their food and drink that is free of packaging, something that hopes to eliminate unnecessary plastic and packaging.

They fill their own containers with a range of products from a series of dispensers using a dedicated refill station, including for wine and beer, rice and cleaning materials.

The products may also be available in reusable bottles or containers, with prices typically 15% cheaper than the packaged alternatives.

Packaged equivalents of the products will remain in their usual areas to create an effective test.

The pilot which runs until August 18 will also offer around 160 fruit and vegetables are available without packaging.

Shoppers can also borrow a box from the store to shop with and then take home before returning on their next visit, and according to Waitrose, this initiative may save thousands of tonnes of unnecessary plastic and packaging.

“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 Waitrose & Partners head of CSR Tor Harris.

“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.”

In April, Waitrose partnered Scottish biotechnology company, CuanTec to trial a new food packaging film made from waste shells.

The new packaging is hoped to be an alternative to conventional plastic film on some of its fish products in 12-18 months’ time.

The supermarket chain has said that it will remove black plastic from all its own-brand products by the end of 2019, having already removed hard-to-recycle black plastic on its fresh meat, fish, poultry, fruit and vegetables.

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