Waitrose Are Trialing ‘Bring-Your-Own’ Container Scheme To Reduce Plastic Packaging

Alfie PowellAlfie Powell in News, UK
Published 04.06.19
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In an excellent move, Waitrose have starting trialing a service where customers bring their own containers to the supermarket and fill them with their chosen contents.

The fight against single-use plastics seems like one of the most important of this generation, and try though we may to make a difference, it seems like the onus isn’t necessarily with the public.

Of course we can all do our part, but I can’t help but feel pretty useless as I buy a wooden toothbrush, a metal water bottle and bring a backpack to the supermarket instead of use their plastic bags, meanwhile you see images like this…

plastic pollution in bali

Here in the UK, there’s a small charge for plastic bags at supermarkets, which is alright, but not enough. Over in South Korea, single use plastic bags and packaging were recently banned and meanwhile in China, super-thin plastics have been prohibited since 2008.

With that in mind, and in a step in the complete right direction, Waitrose are trailing – and hopefully permanently utilising – a new scheme where customers are encourage to bring their own reusable containers to the supermarket with which they’ll fill with consumables such as pasta, beer and fruit.

The “refill station” will also have a “borrow-a-box” feature, where customers will be able to use a container provided by Waitrose, only to return them on their next visit.

waitrose introduce bring your own packaging

The scheme has been called ‘genuinely bold’ by green campaigners, and is in use in the Botley Road, Oxford, branch of Waitrose for eleven weeks, until the 18th of August. Waitrose will then decide whether or not to further pursue the “refill station” and roll it out permanently nationwide.

Tor Harris, from 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.

waitrose refill station no packaging

The products included in the “refill station” include: 160 loose fruit and vegetable products, frozen pick-n-mix fruit, a detergent and washing up liquid dispenser, four wines and four beers available on tap to take home in reusable bottles, four coffees to be ground (or not), and 28 products such as pasta, rice, cereals and more.

Meanwhile in Vietnam and Thailand, rather ingeniously, many supermarkets have started phasing out plastic bags, instead electing to use banana leaves.

The leaves were first seen being used in Rimping supermarket in Chiangmai, Thailand, and since that went viral, supermarkets in Vietnam decided to follow suit.

Speaking about the innovation, a spokesperson for Lotte Market in Ho Chi Minh City said that so far, it’s only a test, but they do plan to roll out the use of alternative packaging nationwide for both meats and vegetables.

Let’s hope that more people decide to make a change. It’s not fair to lump environmentalism on the public when it’s the governments and corporations who can make the biggest changes. Good work Waitrose. Keep it up.

Images via Facebook, Waitrose, Getty

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