Waitrose & Partners launches ‘Unpacked’ initiative

Waitrose & Partners is testing a series of concepts that could save thousands of tonnes of packaging and plastic.

The supermarket chain has launched an ‘Unpacked’ initiative at its Botley Road store in Oxford which includes a dedicated ‘refill station’ where packaging has been removed from hundreds of products.

The items includes 160 types of loose fruit and vegetables and a ‘pick and mix’ offering that features frozen mango, strawberries, blueberries, cherries, pineapple and raspberries.

In addition, plastic wrap has been removed from all flowers and indoor plants and replaced with 100% recyclable and 100% PEFC certified craft paper.

Meanwhile, Waitrose has partnered with Ecover to provide an automatic detergent and washing up liquid dispenser where customers can refill their reusable Ecover containers.

Four different wines and four different beers are also available on tap to take home in reusable bottles to cut down on the use of glass bottles, and customers can grind one of four coffees in-store to take home in a reusable container to reduce glass and plastic packaging

Plus, 28 ‘everyday’ products including pasta, rice, grains, couscous, lentils, cereals, dried fruit and seeds have been taken out of packaging and are available through dispensers.

And, in a UK first, shoppers can ‘borrow-a-box’ from the store to shop with, and then take it home before returning it on their next visit.

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 August 18 as the supermarket seeks as much feedback as possible. A feedback survey will be available on its website page, Waitrose.com/Unpacked, and #WaitroseUnpacked will feature on Twitter and Instagram.

Packaged equivalents of the products will remain in their usual areas to create an effective test.

Tor Harris, head of CSR for 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.”

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