Waitrose is piloting a packaging-free scheme

The scheme will run at a store in Oxford for a period of 11 weeks

Employee-owned Waitrose and Partners has launched a ‘bring your own’ container scheme to reduce plastic waste.

The retailer is currently trialling the packaging-ree scheme at its Botley Road shop in Oxford.

The transformed store features a dedicated refillable zone, the UK’s first supermarket frozen ‘pick and mix’, and first borrow-a-box scheme.

In addition to selling unpacked products, the retailer will display the packaged equivalents of the products to see which option customers prefer. Products in the refillable section will cost on average 15% less than the packed products.

Customers at its Botley Road shop in Oxford are given the option of unpackaged items

The unpacked range includes 160 loose fruit and vegetable products, frozen mango, strawberries, blueberries, cherries, pineapple and raspberries, detergent and washing up liquid refillables, wine and beer refillables, coffee refills and 28 essential products including pasta, rice, grains, couscous, lentils, cereals, dried fruit and seeds.

For a £5 deposit shoppers can borrow a box from the store to take their goods home, which they can return on their next visit.

Tor Harris, head of CSR for Waitrose & Partners, said: “We are determined to build on the work we’ve already done to reduce packaging – and this test will take our efforts to a whole new level as we help the growing number of customers who want to shop in a more sustainable way.

“This test has huge potential to shape how people might shop with us in the future so it will be fascinating to see which concepts our customers have an appetite for. We know we’re not perfect and have more to do, but we believe this is an innovative way to achieve something different.”

The Waitrose Unpacked scheme will run for a period of 11 weeks until 18 August.

The business, which forms part of John Lewis & Partners, is looking for feedback from customers who can complete a survey on its website page, Waitrose.com/Unpacked or use the hashtag #WaitroseUnpacked to share their opinion on social media. If successful, the scheme could be rolled out to other stores.