Waitrose trials packaging-free refill stations

Major UK supermarket chain Waitrose is trialling it’s new ‘Unpacked’ concept in a brand in Oxford.

This week Waitrose will be running a refill trial in an Oxford branch, offering customers refillable options for products such as wine, beer, rice, pastas and cleaning materials, with prices approximately 15% cheaper than packaged goods.

In a significant move to reduce unnecessary plastic and packaging, shoppers are encouraged to bring their own containers to fill from a range of dispensers. This is the first refill station that has been installed by a major UK supermarket.


“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 Head of CSR for Waitrose & Partners Tor Harris in a statement.

The Unpacked concept looks to offer 160 loose fruit and vegetable products, refillable detergent and washing up liquid, refillable beer, coffee and wine, frozen fruit in a pick and mix format, refillable cupboard essentials such as rice, pasta and grains, flowers wrapped in 100% recyclable paper and a borrow-a-box scheme. This final offering is a UK first and allows shoppers to borrow containers in-store to use the refill station before returning it on their next visit.

waitrose-refill-station-plastic-freePackaged equivalents of all products will remain available to create an effective test of customer demand. The test, which will be branded as ‘Waitrose Unpacked’, will run for a period of 11 weeks until August 18th.

“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,” added Harris. “We know we’re not perfect and have more to do, but we believe this is an innovative way to achieve something different.”

The supermarket is seeking as much feedback as possible. A feedback survey will be available and #WaitroseUnpacked will feature on social media.

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