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Asda trials refill points and bottle recycling in ‘sustainability’ store | Business

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The supermarket chain Asda is joining forces with some of the UK’s best-known food and drink brands to create a “sustainability” store, in the latest drive to find and test new ways to eliminate unnecessary plastic and packaging.

From May, its store in Middleton, Leeds, will become the first Asda in the UK where shoppers can fill up their own containers with a range of products, from big brands to own-label coffee and pasta.

Shoppers will be able to use refill points stocked with Kellogg’s cereals such as Rice Krispies and Unilever’s PG Tips tea.

In addition to refill stations, the store will house a “naked florist’s shop” offering plastic-free flowers and loose produce with items such as cucumbers removed from their plastic packaging. A range of recycling facilities will include a reverse vending machine for plastic bottles and cans and clothes hanger recycling.

The new-style store will be a “live” trial, monitored from its nearby head office. Customers will be asked to give feedback in different formats. Trials will last for at least three months before a decision is made whether to roll out, retrial or stop.

Plastic waste has become a major environmental issue, with television programmes such as BBC One’s Blue Planet exposing its effects on the oceans, and media coverage highlighting the dangers of a global plastic binge.

Roger Burnley, Asda’s chief executive, said: “This is a journey we can’t go alone, which is why we invited our suppliers to innovate with us. I’m delighted that household names like Kellogg’s and Unilever have joined us in testing new ideas and approaches to sustainability.”

The “unpackaged” model relying on refills has to date been used predominantly by independent retailers, delicatessens and farm shops but is increasingly being tested by supermarkets in a quest to reduce single-use plastics.

In June last year, Waitrose launched a trial at its Botley Road store in Oxford, offering refillable options for products including wine and beer (including Toast Ale), rice and cleaning materials, as well as packaging-free loose fruit and veg and a frozen “pick and mix” section.

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The “unpacked” refillable zones have since been added to its stores in Cheltenham, Wallingford and Abingdon.

In September, Sainsbury’s said selling milk and fizzy drinks in returnable glass bottles was an option, while Tesco is banning brands that use excessive packaging from its stores.

Daniel Webb, of the campaign group Everyday Plastic, said: “Offering less packaging through refill initiatives at major supermarkets presents a massive step towards reducing the amount of plastic being thrown away.”



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