The UK branch of supermarket chain Lidl is trialling a smart refill machine at its stores, with the aim to provide customers with a mess-free refill solution on-shelf.

The company claims to be the first supermarket in the UK to pilot this option for customers.

Located on-shelf in the store’s laundry detergent section, the compact machine features ‘smart’ pouches and will occupy the same amount of space as 66 standard Formil single-use bottles.

Designed by Chilean sustainability start-up Algramo, the machines feature an automated, touchscreen technology that allows customers to pick up pouches and select a detergent of their choice.

The ‘closed-fill’ technology is incorporated into the pouch cap, enabling customers to fill up even with the cap still open, thereby expediting the fill-up process while avoiding mess and spills.

In addition, a special chip is equipped with the smart Formil pouches, allowing the machine to differentiate between new and reused refill pouches.

Lidl GB will initially trial the machine at its stores in Swadlincote, Lichfield and Kingswinford.

The retailer said that the machine will be capable of filling more than 245 individual pouches, representing nearly a 300% increase in capacity.

The refills help customers save £0.20 ($0.23) for each refill compared with the equivalent single-use product, while the ‘smart’ refill pouches save 59g of plastic for each refill.

The trial comes after Lidl GB launched a six-month pilot of a larger, standing refill machine at its Kingswinford store.

Lidl GB corporate social responsibility manager Mark Newbold said: “We are incredibly proud of this latest innovation, which will enable our customers to save money and reduce their plastic consumption.

“We were the first UK supermarket to introduce smart laundry detergent refill stations and now we’re the first to introduce this next-generation design.

“It’s our strong belief that good quality and value should go together.”