Asda and Co-op to trial refillable packaging

Unilever is expanding refillable packaging trials across the UK, including in selected Asda and Co-op convenience stores.

The trials include testing ‘return on the go’ refill and reuse products, where shoppers can pick up a pre-filled reusable bottle and return in-store once used.

Some of Unilever’s best-known brands, including Persil, Simple, Radox and Alberto Balsam, will be available in reusable stainless-steel bottles in selected Asda and Co-op stores by the end of 2021.

The trials aim to find out the habits of consumers using refillable and reusable packaging by testing different refill models, different store formats, and in-store locations, as well as testing the different shopper experiences that could enable long-term use of refillable products.

The expanded trials are in seven stores across the country, including Glasgow, York, Rugby, Milton Keynes and Leeds.

Unilever is working with Co-op, to test refills amongst convenience shoppers, in addition to customers at larger Asda supermarkets.

According to the company, uptake at its refill trial in Asda’s Sustainability Store in Leeds last year exceeded expectations with weekly purchases of Persil from the refill zone reaching a third higher than the equivalent single use pack.

The multinational said it will be announcing plans for more stores and trials later in the year.

“To tackle plastic pollution with the speed and urgency needed, we are committed to creating scalable solutions which make it as easy as possible for people to make sustainable choices,” said Sebastian Munden, Unilever UK & Ireland general manager and executive vice-president. “We believe refills could be a gamechanger in our ambitions to halve our use of virgin plastic by 2025, however unlocking the full potential of the reuse economy would require a significant shift in how people shop.

Munden added: “Using our well-known and trusted brands and working closely with retailers, we are testing different refill models on a large scale in order to continue to build our understanding of how to bring about a significant change most effectively.”

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