Bring your own container: Waitrose to encourage sustainable shopping

sustainable shopping

British Supermarkets chain, Waitrose Limited has come up with the latest pilot program to curb the use of plastic at one of its branches in Oxford. The store has removed plastic packaging from flowers and plants and is encouraging shoppers to bring their own reusable containers to buy loose fruits and vegetables.

In an eleven week experiment, Waitrose has launched will test how many customers will ditch the plastic packaging to weigh and pack their food. The store is equipped with boards “We have removed as much plastic as we can,” or “Reduce Reuse Refill.” Shoppers can thus buy and refill their own plastic containers with supermarket produce like cereals, rice or even pasta, etc. This Oxford branch has abandoned several hundreds of products from its plastic packaging and is offering fruits and vegetable package free. Moreover, the store has also given shoppers the option of borrowing a container by paying a deposit of £5, which is refundable after the box is returned. This experiment has made Waitrose one of the first supermarkets to initiate the idea of discarding plastic packaging while shopping.

This has also changed the way customers shop; for instance, when they need to buy frozen fruit, shoppers will now have to first weigh their empty container and then the desired food item. One can also buy couscous, coffee in an empty container of their own. Shoppers can even buy wine and beer in a special bottle, as well as detergent and liquid washing soap.

Morrisons, Tesco, Sainsbury’s and Waitrose previously allowed customers to use their own reusable containers for certain products bought over the counter, such as meat and fish. Moreover, produce bought through own containers will be 15% cheaper, in order to “help the growing number of customers who want to shop in a more sustainable way,” says Tor Harris, Head of corporate social responsibility for Waitrose. “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,” he adds.

Although shoppers are still skeptical about the idea of ‘bring your own container’, since they are not sure how many to carry and how many will be enough, they agree that the initiative is a good start.