Abel & Cole has launched a first-of-its-kind refill delivery service

Katie Hill - Editor-in-Chief, My Green Pod

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Published: 3 February 2020

This Article was Written by: Katie Hill - My Green Pod

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Organic grocery business Abel & Cole has launched a cutting-edge refillables trial.

This first-of-its-kind trial will remove single-use packaging from a selection of pantry items and deliver them instead in returnable, reusable pots.

This service, named Club Zero, makes Abel & Cole the first ever online retailer to offer a refillable service in the UK as part of your normal weekly shop.

‘People have become increasingly aware of climate change and we have witnessed a huge growth in the appetite for sustainable products and ways to shop. I hope Club Zero helps anyone looking to cut down on single-use packaging, particularly those without the ability to get to a zero waste refill shop or those not wanting to jump in the car to get to one (undoing their intention!).’

HANNAH SHIPTON
MD of Abel & Cole

Reducing waste

For over 30 years Abel & Cole has sourced organic, wild and foraged products and delivered them in reusable cardboard boxes. The company says it has saved approximately 55 million single-use plastic bags from landfill.

Week on week it reduces single-use packaging waste by 88% in comparison with an average supermarket shop.

In 2019 Abel & Cole certified as a B Corp and vowed to continue finding innovative ways to be as sustainable as possible. Club Zero is the next step in its journey.

Club Zero’s VIPs

Club Zero members will be able to order staple pantry items in fully reusable, returnable pots, nicknamed ‘VIPs’ – Very Important Pots.

‘We are so proud to have supported Abel & Cole on this ground-breaking home delivery refillables trial, as we believe there is such an opportunity for a delivery service to enable more people to gain regular access to refills. Abel & Cole are taking a bold step in helping their customers drastically reduce packaging, which is the kind of leadership we need to see from business to help us out of the global plastic packaging crisis we face.’

CATHERINE CONWAY
Founder of Unpackaged

These ‘VIPs’ will then be collected the following week to be reused again and again (and again). Remember the milkman? Well it’s just like that, but with customers’ favourite pantry items.

While this is a cutting-edge trial that could mark a significant shift in the way people purchase staple pantry goods, it is also a return to tradition, a trial that combines the most sustainable practices with the convenience of shopping online.

Plastic pots

These ‘VIPs’ are made of plastic. The issues around plastic are very complex. Single-use plastic, designed to be used and thrown away, is costly and damaging to the environment and this is the very issue that Club Zero seeks to solve.

However, plastic is lightweight and therefore doesn’t use a large amount of energy to transport. It’s also durable, easy to clean and easy to reuse. For Abel & Cole plastic is ‘the perfect material for a refillables service’.

These VIPs are made of polypropylene, or PP, which can be widely and easily recycled across the UK, if and when the pot comes out of the reuse system.

The service will open to everyone by the end of February. It was developed with specialist zero-waste consultants at Unpackaged.

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