Unilever works with Asda and Co-op to scale up refillable packaging trials
Unilever is teaming up with Asda and the Co-op in an expansion of its refillable packaging trials across the UK.
The move will also include a ‘return on the go’ refill pilot in selected Asda supermarkets and Co-op convenience stores using Unilever brands.
Following the successful launch of its largest refill trial in Europe in Asda’s sustainability store in Leeds last year, Unilever’s new ‘test and learn’ trials will aim to gain a deeper understanding of the likelihood and habits of consumers using refillable and reusable packaging, The trials will test different refill models, store formats and in-store locations and will also test different shopper experiences.
The trials will take place in a mix of seven stores across the UK including Glasgow, York, Rugby, Milton Keynes and Leeds. Plans for more stores and trials will be announced later in the year.
The ‘return on the go’ offering will be aimed at shoppers looking for a quicker ‘grab and go’ purchase. When using the service, they will be able to pick up a pre-filled stainless-steel bottle from store shelves and return it in-store once used. The bottles will then be cleaned and re-filled.
To fulfil the circular process required to create and maintain the refill stations and to collect, clean and return the pre-filled bottles once used, Unilever has extended its partnership with Return•Refill•Repeat, which is pioneered by sustainability and circular economy specialist Beauty Kitchen.
Meanwhile the ‘refill on the go’ option, where customers can purchase and refill re-useable stainless-steel bottles using a standalone refill station, will continue to be tested.
Sebastian Munden, Unilever UK & Ireland general manager and executive vice-president, said: “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. 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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