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British retailer Waitrose trials “Unpacked” concept

British retailer Waitrose & Partners has transformed one shop in Oxford in order to test concepts to sell products without packaging.

The test is designed to help determine how customers might be prepared to shop differently in the future and has the potential to save “thousands of tonnes of unnecessary plastic and packaging,” according to Waitrose. It will run for a period of 11 weeks until 18 August as the supermarket seeks as much feedback as possible. A feedback survey will also be available on its website page,, and #WaitroseUnpacked will feature on Twitter and Instagram.

Packaged equivalents of the products will remain in their usual areas to create an effective test. For example, given the choice between buying packaged or unpackaged fruit and vegetables, which one do customers go for.

The “Unpacked” concepts include:

– Produce unpacked: 160 loose fruit and vegetable products will be available at the store.

– Frozen pick and mix: Frozen mango, strawberries, blueberries, cherries, pineapple and raspberries are packaging free and will be available as pick and mix.

– Plastic removed from flowers and plants: Plastic wrap has been removed from all flowers and indoor plants and replaced with 100 per cent recyclable and 100 per cent PEFC certified kraft paper.

– Detergent and washing up liquid refillables: Waitrose has partnered with Ecover to provide an automatic detergent and washing up liquid dispenser where customers will be able to refill their reusable Ecover containers.

– Wine and beer refillables: Four different wines and four different beers available on tap to take home in reusable bottles to cut down on the use of glass bottles.

– Coffee refills: Customers can grind one of four coffees in store to take home in a reusable container to reduce glass and plastic packaging.

– Essential refillables: 28 products including pasta, rice, grains, couscous, lentils, cereals, dried fruit and seeds have been taken out of packaging and will be available through dispensers.

– Borrow-a-box scheme: In a UK first, shoppers can borrow-a-box from store to shop with and then take home before returning on their next visit.

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