British supermarket Waitrose has started a packaging-free trial with products such as pasta, rice and cereals sold through dispensers.
The retailer has transformed one of its stores in Oxford, taking hundreds of products out of their packaging to determine how customers might be prepared to shop differently in the future.
The ‘unpacked’ concept sees the shop offer coffee, beer and wine in reusable bottles or containers. Around 160 fruit and vegetables are available without packaging.
In a UK first, shoppers can also borrow a box from the store to shop with and then take home before returning on their next visit. According to Waitrose, the changes have the potential to save thousands of tonnes of unnecessary plastic and packaging.
The test will run for 11 weeks until 18 August as the supermarket seeks as much feedback as possible.
Packaged equivalents of the products will remain in their usual areas to create an effective 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,” said Waitrose & Partners head of CSR Tor Harris.
“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.”
In April, Waitrose announced a partnership with Scottish biotechnology company CuanTec to explore the potential for eco food packaging made from langoustine shells.
The supermarket hopes the new packaging could be used as an alternative to conventional plastic film on some of its fish products in 12-18 months’ time.
Waitrose has said it will also remove black plastic from all its own-brand products by the end of 2019. It has already removed hard-to-recycle black plastic on its fresh meat, fish, poultry, fruit and vegetables.
© FoodBev Media Ltd 2019