Waitrose studying consumers' sustainable habits

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Waitrose studying consumers' sustainable habits

By Lawrence Aylward - 06/04/2019
Waitrose wants its customers to "refill" using the same container to cut back on packaging.

Waitrose & Partners, simply known as Waitrose in the grocery industry, is one of the top supermarket chains in the United Kingdom and a clear favorite among British consumers. Waitrose, which operates more than 350 stores, has embraced sustainability and always seems to be introducing something new to take its green initiatives to another level.

Based in Berkshire, England, Waitrose is simply differentiating through sustainability, something that U.S. grocers are also starting to do. Members of Waitrose’s sustainability team always seem to be coming up with new concepts.

The latest concept is a study called “Waitrose Unpacked,” which is designed to help determine how customers might be prepared to shop differently in the future. The test is occurring at a Waitrose store in Oxford, England.

The Waitrose Unpacked concept includes:

• Produce unpacked — 160 loose and unpackaged fruit and vegetable products are for sale at the store.

• Frozen pick and mix — Frozen mango, strawberries, blueberries, cherries, pineapple and raspberries are packaging-free and are available for sale as pick and mix items.

• Plastic removed from flowers and plants — Plastic wrap has been removed from all flowers and indoor plants and replaced with 100% recyclable and 100% PEFC-certified craft paper.  

• Detergent and dish-washing liquid refillables — Waitrose is providing an automatic detergent and dish-washing liquid dispenser where customers can refill their reusable containers.

• Wine and beer refillables — Four different wines and four different beers are 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 are available through dispensers

• Borrow-a-box scheme — Shoppers can borrow-a-box from the store to shop with and then take home before returning on their next visit.  

The store placed packaged equivalents of the products in their usual areas to create an effective test. The test’s results will show what products shoppers purchased. For example, did they buy packaged or unpackaged fruit and vegetables?

The test, which began this month, will run for 11 weeks. A feedback survey is available on Waitrose’s website. The test will also be branded across the store to maximize awareness.

“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 Tor Harris, Waitrose’s head of corporate social responsibility (CSR). “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.”







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