Waitrose trials packaging-free shopping concept

British supermarket chain is on a mission to discover the future of grocery


In an effort to reduce plastic waste, Waitrose has eliminated packaging from hundreds of products at one of its shops in Oxford, England.

The British supermarket chain has removed plastic wrap from flowers and indoor plants, and has introduced refill stations where shoppers can fill their personal containers with items such as cereal, rice, lentils, coffee, pasta and cleaning products. It is also selling “pick and mix” frozen fruit, and for a deposit fee shoppers can “borrow-a-box” to take their orders home. The fee is refunded once the box is returned.

In a press release announcing the project, Waitrose said it wanted to determine how customers might shop differently in the future.

waitrose-press-site_131781959842294“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,” said Tor Harris, head of CSR for Waitrose & Partners. “We know we’re not perfect and have more to do, but we believe this is an innovative way to achieve something different.”

This trial is the latest among supermarket chains and CPGs to cut back on plastic. Canada’s Metro grocery chain recently announced customers across Quebec could shop using their own packaging at the deli, meat, fish, seafood, pastry and ready-to-eat meal counters.

And. U.S. grocer Kroger partnered with Waste-free shopping system Loop to allow customers in select markets to purchase more than 100 products online from leading brands that have redesigned their packaging with durable containers. Loop execs have said a Canadian retail partner would be announced this spring.