British supermarket chain Asda is launching its first “sustainability store” encouraging customers to bring in their own containers to reuse and refill.
From May, the Middleton store in Leeds will become the first Asda in the UK where shoppers can fill up their own containers of products, including Asda’s own-brand coffee, rice and pasta, as well as Kellogg’s cereals such as Coco Pops and Rice Krispies, and PG Tips tea.
In addition to the refill stations, the store will include a “naked florist” offering plastic-free flowers and loose produce with items such as cucumbers and mushrooms being taken out of their plastic packaging. There will also be a range of new recycling facilities, including a reverse vending machine for plastic bottles and cans, hanger recycling and a deposit box for unwanted small plastic toys.
The move is part of Asda’s commitment to reduce the amount of plastic it uses. Having removed 8,000 tonnes from its own brand packaging since 2018, it has also committed to making almost a third of plastic packaging from recycled sources by the end of 2020, and to reduce plastic by 15% by February 2021. It will also make all packaging – of whatever material – 100% recyclable by 2025.
It is expected that in-store trials will last for at least three months, with customers asked to give feedback.
Roger Burnley, CEO of Asda, said: “We’re on an ongoing quest to remove and reduce the amount of plastic in our business – and to find new ways to help our customers to reuse and refill our products. It’s a journey we can’t go on alone, which is why we invited our suppliers to innovate with us and I’m delighted that household names like Kellogg’s and Unilever have joined us in testing new ideas and approaches to sustainability at our Middleton store.
“Over the coming weeks and months we will be testing and learning from the customers in Middleton to understand how we can reduce our environmental impacts whilst still maintaining the great service and quality our customers demand. Our first priority will be to look at how we can reduce and remove plastic and I am excited to learn from our customers and see where this journey will take us.”
Asda’s “sustainability store” follows on from the launch of Waitrose’s Unpacked “refill station” at its Botley Road store in Oxford last June. The supermarket’s trial refill system proved so popular that the scheme was soon rolled out across Waitrose’s Cheltenham, Abingdon and Wallingford stores, taking hundreds of products out of plastic packaging.
Rosa Medea is Life & Soul Magazine’s Chief. She writes about lifestyles including sustainable and green living. She also offers content services to businesses and individuals at Rosamedea.com