If you read the national news or are on social media of any kind, you should have seen that yesterday our local Waitrose, on Botley Road, launched its ‘unpackaged’ pilot for a package free zone – or 5! – in its store. Exciting.
We are really pleased to see this development, as we wrote to them in December last year to ask about their plans for just that. You can see our letter about packaging-free zones – and meat marketing – here on the blog. The letter was part of our ongoing supermarket engagement activities, and whilst there is much, much more to do, this kind of progress is worth celebrating.
I popped in to see it with my own eyes today, and who should I find there, but Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall, filming for a documentary. He and I like many of the same things… though I was too shy to pursue a selfie!
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The unpackaged pilot offers refillable options for alcohol, rice and cleaning materials, and they have large amounts of plastic-free fruit and veg. In addition, their flowers are now wrapped in paper, and pot plants are in biodegradable pots – great news for anyone who has broken plastic pots pushing open the doors of their garden shed.
From the Waitrose press release, Unpacked includes:
Produce unpacked – 160 loose fruit and vegetable products will be available at the store – the most loose fruit and vegetable lines offered by any national supermarket.
Frozen pick and mix – Frozen mango, strawberries, blueberries, cherries, pineapple and raspberries are packaging free and will be available as pick and mix.
Plastic removed from flowers and plants – Plastic wrap has been removed from all flowers and indoor plants and replaced with 100% recyclable and 100% PEFC certified craft paper.
Detergent and washing up liquid refillables – Waitrose & Partners is the first supermarket to partner with Ecover and provide an automatic detergent and washing up liquid dispenser where customers will be able to refill their reusable Ecover containers.
Wine and beer refillables – Four different wines and four different beers available on tap to take home in reusable bottles to cut down on the use of glass bottles.
Coffee refills – Customers can grind one of four coffees in store to take home in a reusable container to reduce glass and plastic packaging.
Essential refillables – 28 products including pasta, rice, grains, couscous, lentils, cereals, dried fruit and seeds have been taken out of packaging and will be available through dispensers
Borrow-a-box scheme – In a UK first, shoppers can borrow-a-box from store to shop with and then take home before returning on their next visit.
Also from the press release: ‘The test, which will be branded strongly with ‘Waitrose Unpacked’ across the shop to maximise awareness, will run for a period of 11 weeks until 18 August as the supermarket seeks as much feedback as possible. A feedback survey will also be available on its website page, Waitrose.com/Unpacked, and #WaitroseUnpacked will feature on Twitter and Instagram’.
We say: a great development, with much more to be done!
So please: if you shop there (and obviously many other options are available), use it enthusiastically, and give all the positive and contrustive feedback you can over the next 11 weeks.
And next step? Let’s keep pushing for this to be more than just a pilot, and keep asking supermarkets for specific information regarding their policies on marketing meat, given the recommendation that we reduce our meat consumption and research which shows that placing of meat in shops affects buying habits.
We’d also like to give a special mention to the numerous other businesses and fellow Community Action Groups who have been offering refill and package-free goods in Oxfordshire for a while, and shown the supermarkets how it is done! (looking at you Sesi Refill and Scoop Zero Waste!).
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Check out coverage of the scheme in the national news here: