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UK supermarket Waitrose has launched a trial of packaging-free shopping in a bid to cut down on waste.

The retailer has installed a ‘refill station’ in its Botley Road shop in Oxford outlets. Customers can take their own containers to fill.

Packaging-free options include pasta, cereal, rice, wine, beer, and cleaning products, and prices are around 15 percent cheaper than the packaged counterparts.

Plastic-free test

“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,” Tor Harris, from Waitrose & Partners, said.

“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.”

The move has been welcomed by Greenpeace. “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,” Ariana Densham, Greenpeace ocean plastics campaigner, said.

Plastic bags

Last year Waitrose announced it would be ditching plastic bags by Spring 2019.

As well as ditching 5p bags, the supermarket pledged to replace its small fruit and veg bags with a compostable version, made from corn starch.

According to the store, this will save 500 tons of plastic a year – around 134 million bags. The phase-out will start in a limited number of outlets next month.

Reducing plastic

Tor Harris, Waitrose’s Head of Corporate Social Responsibility, Health and Agriculture, said: “The removal of these bags will change the way our customers, many of whom have been asking us to do this, shop with us in the future.

“We know we still have a lot to do, but as with our commitment to removing takeaway disposable cups earlier this year, this represents another major step forward in reducing our use of plastics.”

Maria Chiorando

Maria is the editor of Plant Based News. As a former magazine editor, newspaper reporter, and features writer, her work has been published by The Guardian, The Huffington Post, and various regional newspapers, as well as Vegan Life magazine and Vegan Trade Journal. She has interviewed a huge range of people, from Prime Ministers to authors, activists, pop stars and actors, and enjoys the varied range of topics writing for PBN allows her to tackle.