Waitrose pilots new "refilling station" in Oxford

PICS: Waitrose & Partners/PA Wire - Botley Road, Oxford,

Customers can fill their own containers up with wine and beer.

Shoppers at the Botley Road store can now borrow a box to take away everyday essentials, like rice, pasta and washing up liquid.

The 'Waitrose Unpacked' scheme will also provide the UK's first supermarket "pick and mix" for frozen fruit including mango, strawberries and pineapple, the retailer said.

Waitrose & Partners said the ideas have the potential to save on thousands of tonnes of unnecessary and throwaway plastic packaging.

The Botley Road supermarket has been transformed to take hundreds of products out of their packaging.

Packaged equivalents will remain in their usual areas though, 'to create an effective test to see if shoppers change how they shop.'

The scheme includes:

  • 160 loose fruit and vegetable products
  • Frozen mango, strawberries, blueberries, cherries, pineapple and raspberries available as pick and mix
  • Plastic removed from flowers and plants and replaced with 100% recyclable craft paper
  • A partnership with Ecover providing an automatic detergent and washing up liquid dispenser
  • Four wines and four beers available on tap to take home in reusable bottles
  • Four coffees can be ground to take home in a reusable container
  • 28 products including pasta, rice, grains, couscous, lentils, cereals, dried fruit and seeds available through dispensers

The trial will run for 11 weeks until August 18, and the supermarket is seeking as much feedback as possible.

Tor Harris, from Waitrose & Partners, 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."

Ariana Densham, ocean plastics campaigner for Greenpeace UK, said: "This is a genuinely bold step from Waitrose to trial food dispensers so customers can use refillable tubs and jars.

"Lots of supermarkets are starting to sell loose fruit and vegetables, which is good, but more importantly this kind of innovation could spark a refill culture that's so desperately needed to cut plastics in mainstream shops.

"The top 10 UK supermarkets produce 810,000 tonnes of throwaway packaging each year, so we need to see other major retailers taking plastic reduction seriously and following Waitrose's lead."

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