Waitrose extends ‘bring your own containers’ anti-plastic scheme

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Media captionWhat do shoppers think about Waitrose’s trial?

Waitrose is extending a trial to remove packaging from many products after a positive response in its first store.

The “Unpacked” scheme was tested in Oxford, with customers using their own containers to buy produce such as pasta, wine and frozen fruit.

More than 200 products were taken out of their packaging at the Botley Road shop in June to cut waste.

Now the chain has announced the scheme will be rolled out to stores in Cheltenham, Abingdon and Wallingford.

The goods taken out of their packaging include cut flowers, fruit and vegetables, beer, lentils, couscous and seeds, as well as a “pick and mix” for frozen fruit.

A Waitrose spokesman said feedback from shoppers had been overwhelmingly positive and sales had overtaken those of equivalent packaged products.

The Oxford store trial has also been extended beyond the original end date of 18 August.

Image caption

Cartons are used on shelves previously stacked with plastic boxes

Tor Harris, from Waitrose and Partners, said the reaction had been “incredible”.

“Through working with our customers and suppliers we will continue to learn and develop ideas which have the potential to be rolled out more widely,” he added.

Two unsuccessful elements of the trial – a kitchen in which staff prepared vegetables for customers and a “borrow-a-box” option – will not feature in the new stores.

Waitrose said it was saving money on plastic and packaging from products arriving in the store in bulk or in reusable containers.

A sustainability consultant was carrying out an analysis of the overall impact of the test to give an accurate picture of the scheme’s impact.

Sian Sutherland, co-founder of campaign group A Plastic Planet, said: “It is no longer acceptable to blame the public for plastic pollution.

“Brands and retailers simply need to offer their customers a better choice, a new way of shopping that is guilt-free.”

Image caption

The refill stations have an array of typical household consumables

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