1 August 2019
Waitrose rolls out trial scheme to remove packaging from products after success at first store
Waitrose is extending its trial to take products out of their packaging following a positive response in the first store.
The Unpacked scheme was tested in Oxford, with a dedicated refill zone including dispensers for products from pasta to wine.
It also had the UK’s first supermarket “pick and mix” for frozen fruit, including mango and strawberries.
More than 200 products – from cut flowers and fruit and vegetables to wine and beer – were taken out of their packaging as part of efforts to cut waste.
Feedback from shoppers has been overwhelmingly positive and ‘Unpacked’ sales have overtaken those of equivalent products in packaging, Waitrose & Partners said.
The retailer has now announced it is extending the trial, which began in June, beyond the original end date of August 18.
It added that the refillable concept will be rolled out for testing in three more stores in Cheltenham, Abingdon and Wallingford.
All three shops will have a dedicated refill zone, with dispensers for dried products such as pasta, the frozen pick and mix, coffee, wine and beer refills, and Ecover detergent and washing-up liquid refillables.
There will also be a wide range of unpacked fruit and veg, although it will change to reflect the season and where the produce comes from.
Two elements of the trial – the veg kitchen which saw staff preparing vegetables for customers and the “borrow-a-box” option for people instead of bringing their own containers – were not as successful.
They will be removed from the first store by the end of August and not feature in the new stores.
Tor Harris, from Waitrose & Partners, said: “We are keen to take the ‘Unpacked’ concept forward and these additional tests will help us achieve this as well as understand its commercial viability.
“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.”
Sian Sutherland, co-founder of campaign group A Plastic Planet, said: “We are so encouraged to hear that Waitrose have had such a positive reaction from their customers on the ‘Unpacked’ trial.
“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.”