The retailer says 25 of 44 products offered loose have outsold packaged equivalents
Marks & Spencer is to extend its trial of a refill scheme that enables shoppers to replenish their own food containers, after its research revealed that more than three-quarters of consumers said they were trying to reduce the amount of packaging they use.
The retailer’s initial trial of its “fill your own” scheme at its Hedge End store in Southampton, which offers 44 packaging-free products from coffee to confectionery, will be expanded this month to include a second store in Manchester city centre.
The results of a new survey found that the main barrier to refill schemes is finding retailers that offer them. This was cited by 38% of consumers, followed by 18% who highlightedthe need to carry containers around and the inconvenience of doing so. A perception that unpackaged items are more expensive was also mentioned.
Hailing the popularity of its Southampton experiment, M&S said 25 of the its 44 “fill your own” products were outselling the packaged alternatives. Bestsellers include its triple chocolate crunch cereal, whole porridge oats, basmati rice, milk chocolate raisins, single-origin Brazilian coffee and fiorelli pasta.
M&S’s director of food technology, Paul Willgoss, said: “Our ‘fill your own’ concept is one area we’re focusing on as part of our action to reduce plastic packaging and support our customers to reuse and recycle … We’re keen to better understand refill across the entire store process from behind the scenes operations to working with our customers to encourage behaviour change.”
Fill-your-own models have to date been used mainly by independent retailers, delicatessens and farm shops, but supermarkets are increasingly testing [them] in a effort to reduce single-use plastics.
Sainsbury’s has recently started a trial of Ecover refill stations for washing-up liquid and laundry detergent. Shoppers at its superstore in Haringey, north London, are able to refill with bottles that can be used as many as 50 times, with the potential to save more than 1m tonnes of plastic a year. The trial will be extended to another 19 stores later this year.
Waitrose created a dedicated refill area at its Botley Road store in Oxford last year, offering refillable options for products including wine and beer – including the anti-food waste Toast Ale, rice and cleaning materials. It has since started trials in its Cheltenham, Wallingford and Abingdon stores.
Asda will open its first “sustainability” store in Many. Shoppers in Middleton, Leeds, will be able to use refill points stocked with major brands.