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Asda’s refill trial

Big brands join Asda’s quest to reduce plastic at the supermarket’s first ‘sustainability store’
Katie Hill - Editor-in-Chief, My Green Pod
Asda trials refill and reuse scheme

Asda has joined forces with some of the UK’s best-known brands to launch its first ‘test and learn’ sustainability store in its heartland of Leeds.

Its mission is to find new ways to reduce plastic and encourage customers to reuse and refill.

Kellogg’s Refills

From May, the Leeds-based store 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.

The supermarket has also asked well known household brands to join its quest to reduce plastic – meaning shoppers will also be able to use refill points for Kellogg’s cereals such as Coco Pops and Rice Krispies and Unilever’s PG Tips tea.

‘UK supermarkets increased their plastic footprint to more than 900,000 tonnes last year, so it’s encouraging to see Asda take steps to ditch throwaway plastic, and introduce the option for customers to refill their own containers.

‘And the fact that big brands like Kellogg’s and PG Tips are included in this trial shows Asda’s having the right conversations with branded suppliers on plastic.

‘Plastic is made from fossil fuels, so its production contributes to our climate emergency, and it’s a material that pollutes our rivers and oceans. We’ll never recycle our way out of this crisis, so Asda and other UK supermarkets must urgently reduce plastic by switching to reusable and refillable packaging at scale.’

Head of Greenpeace UK’s ocean plastics campaign

Customers shopping at the store will be asked to give their feedback on different trials – allowing Asda and its suppliers to understand more about how these innovative new ideas work in practice. Trials will last for at least three months before a decision is made on whether to roll out, retrial or stop.

A ‘naked florist’

In addition to the refill stations, the store will include a ‘naked florist’ offering plastic-free flowers and loose produce.

Items such as cucumbers and mushrooms will be available without 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.

‘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.’

CEO of Asda

‘A great first step’

Having removed 8,000 tonnes from its own brand packaging since 2018, Asda recently brought forward commitments to make almost a third of plastic packaging from recycled sources by the end of 2020, and reduce plastic by 15% by February 2021. It will also make all packaging – of whatever material – 100% recyclable by 2025.

‘We’re encouraged to see Asda taking action to reduce its packaging. This is a great first step! We’re now entering an era of retail where shoppers, fed up of the guilt of plastic waste, are demanding much more dramatic and real change.

‘The most important two Rs are Refill and Reuse. Refill shopping is the future. A Plastic Planet’s live lab of refillable products in London’s Thornton’s Budgens shows how people are embracing a seismic shift away from packaging in general.

‘All supermarkets should urgently look at how they can reduce packaging overall, not just swap one material for another. It’s a waste of the world’s resources. Shoppers can see the bigger picture of reducing packaging where it is really not needed, it’s high time all supermarkets saw it as well.’

A Plastic Planet co-founder

Click here to view 2019’s league table for supermarket plastic.

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