The UK’s first supermarket frozen ‘pick and mix’ and first essential refillables are among a series of ideas being looked at in a test from Waitrose & Partners, which has the aim to save thousands of tonnes of unnecessary plastic and packaging.
The test is designed to help determine how customers might be prepared to shop differently in the future.
The retailer has therefore transformed its Botley Road shop in Oxford and taken hundreds of products out of their packaging.
It has the largest number of loose fruit and vegetable lines of any national supermarket, has removed plastic wrap from its flowers and indoor plants and has launched refillable options for everything from wine to beer and cereals to coffees as well as cleaning products.
The test, which will be branded strongly with ‘Waitrose Unpacked’ across the shop to maximise awareness, will run for a period of 11 weeks until 18th 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.
For example, given the choice between buying packaged or unpackaged fruit and vegetables, which one do customers go for.
Some ‘Unpacked’ examples include:
Produce unpacked – 160 loose fruit and vegetable products will be available at the store – the loosest fruit and vegetable lines offered by any national supermarket.
Frozen pick and mix – Frozen mango, strawberries, blueberries, cherries, pineapple and raspberries are packaging free and will be available as pick and mix.
Essential refillables – 28 products including pasta, rice, grains, couscous, lentils, cereals, dried fruit and seeds have been taken out of packaging and will be available through dispensers.
Borrow-a-box scheme – In a UK first, shoppers can borrow-a-box from store to shop with and then take home before returning on their next visit.
Head of CSR for Waitrose & Partners, Tor Harris, said: “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.
“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.”