Waitrose has launched its Unpacked initiative at its Botley Road shop in Oxford, UK, but will it work?

Under the initiative, Waitrose is providing shoppers with a ‘refill zone’ that allows them to use pick and mix dispensers to distribute frozen and loose fruit and veg, pasta, rice, coffee, washing up liquid, and beers and wine on tap. The scheme also provides customers with boxes they can borrow that they return later.

Waitrose packaging reduction trial

The scheme aims to cut down on packaging waste, reducing the amount of packaging produced in the first place and how much goes to landfill. In many ways, it echoes the push in recent years to replace disposable coffee cups with reusable alternatives, and the trend in many smaller chains and independent businesses offering loose produce as standard.

GlobalData found that approximately 93.5% of consumers agreed that it is the responsibility of retailers to act sustainably, and they now expect more from brands in terms of their social and environmental responsibilities. Retailers that are able to react to the attitudes and trends around sustainability will make the largest gains in terms of gaining a positive reputation, especially if the sustainable strategies used are promoted in an experiential way – as it is in the case of the pick-and-mix dispensers for multiple categories of items. By clearly and intuitively allowing the consumer to act on their beliefs more easily, Waitrose has made an effective, positive mood to court ecologically conscious consumers.

Waitrose says its aim is to eliminate all unnecessary plastic and to make all of its own-brand packaging from reusable, recycled or biodegradable material by 2023, which is the case for 85% of its products.

The trial will run for 11 weeks until August 18.