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Reuse will be crucial in the packaging revolution

Giles Bolton
Giles Bolton
Responsible Sourcing Director

Our 4 R’s packaging strategy is clear: Remove it where we can. Reduce it where we can't. Reuse more. Recycle what's left.

It’s understandable that initial headlines have focused on Remove and Reduce. We're working with our suppliers, branded and own brand, to meet some stretching ambitions, and the changes this will deliver will be tangible and swift.

But it's Reuse where some of the most disruptive ideas on packaging are coming through, in the UK and globally – potentially offering the greatest changes. 

In the new year we'll launch a ground breaking partnership with Loop, specialists in refillable and reusable packaging. Starting online, 5,000 customers will be able to order products in packaging that can be reused. Rather than recycle (or even worse landfill) the packaging, it's returned, washed, refilled and used again. More information on Loop is available here. Our trial will go live in London in early 2020. We've been working with Loop and suppliers to refine our trial plans following findings from previous trials in France and the US, and are targeting a bigger, wider selection of products at launch at competitive prices.

Loop is our flagship reusable trial and has the potential to fundamentally change the shopping basket and how customers shop. But it doesn’t sit in isolation. It builds on the success of ‘bring your own container’ and ‘reusable cup’ at counters and in our cafes.

Over the next few months we'll be trialling other Reuse initiatives too, including new opportunities to introduce refillable solutions for both liquid and solid products, and extending the areas of our stores where you can bring your own container or bag.

Outside of food, we've been testing coat hanger returns, where colleagues are retaining all hangers so they can be reused. Hangers are extremely difficult to recycle. This could save 193 million coat hangers every year.

We’ve also been making a number of changes to our Head Office, moving away from single-use materials to ensure we have a sustainable campus, and even offering colleagues great rates to help them switch to renewable electricity (all our stores and distribution centres in the UK are already 100% powered by renewables).

Central to understanding the shift in customer behaviour around Reuse, is sharing learnings.

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