Greenpeace Names Waitrose No.1 in Plastic Reduction Efforts

Kudos corner now for quintessential peddler of Essential quinoa, Waitrose, as the supermarket is announced to have topped the EIA (Environmental Investigation Agency) and Greenpeace table of UK supermarkets for efforts to reduce plastics across its shops and products for the second year in a row.

The report acknowledges that Waitrose reported an absolute plastic reduction of 6.1% since 2017 across both its own-brand and branded ranges – the lowest plastic use per unit market share of the supermarkets, while also highlighting its refillable pilot scheme. 

Waitrose pioneered the launch of its refillable range in some of its shops in 2019 with ‘Waitrose Unpacked’ to test demand from consumers for packaging free shopping.

The Waitrose Unpacked trial proved a huge hit with consumers

In 2021 it takes the concept one step further by becoming the first national supermarket to integrate unpacked items into its regular aisles within its shop in Wallingford Oxfordshire, rather than having a single unpacked fixture. Following the addition of 13 Unpacked options in December, the store will offer 51 lines, including frozen fruit, store cupboard essentials such as rice, pasta and grains, cereals, dried fruit, snacking and coffee, as well as washing detergent.

This trial aims to understand whether customers could be persuaded to incorporate shopping for unpacked items into their routine ‘business as usual’ shopping trips, rather than visiting a separate part of the shop.

In addition to confirming plans to add more refillable products to the range later this year, it underlines Waitrose’s ambition to explore the potential to scale-up Unpacked in the future.

The Unpacked initiative helped Waitrose rank first in Greenpeace’s annual league

When Unpacked launched in Waitrose Botley Road shop in Oxford in summer 2019 it was originally intended to be an 11 week test, but following its success it has continued there and was added to a further three shops, including Wallingford, Abingdon and Cheltenham. 

The announcement comes on the back of a report published by Waitrose today showing that customers were overwhelmingly supportive of the unpacked initiative and that nearly all single-use packaging was eliminated across Unpacked products. 

The report shows that in the initial 11 weeks at Botley Road found that 98% of single-use packaging was eliminated across Unpacked products and that all plastic packaging was reduced by 83%. A survey as part of the report found that 80% of customers said they would shop Unpacked again and that as the test went on increasing number customers were remembering to bring their own containers – nearly of customers after just ten weeks. Feedback suggested customers want to see a broader range of Unpacked products, including more brands, and that Unpacked also helped them do their bit for the environment and feel better about their purchases.

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