The UK supermarket chain's "packaging-free" scheme was initially launched as an 11-week trial at its Botley Road shop in Oxford earlier this year

Waitrose shop

Of consumers asked about the Waitrose Unpacked scheme, 90% said they would continue to use it (Credit: Thomas Nugent, Geograph,

British supermarket Waitrose is set to extend its “packaging-free” trial to a second store to help gauge how customers might be prepared to adapt their shopping habits.

The move, to include its store in Cheltenham, Gloucestershire, follows positive customer feedback from shoppers using the Unpacked scheme at its initial location in Oxford.

Waitrose found 90% of the store’s customers said they would continue to shop using Unpacked, triggering plans to extend the scheme to three more stores by the end of 2019.

Cheltenham branch manager Mike Snowdon said: “We are the second-largest Waitrose shop in our estate, so this represents a significant investment and we’re excited to show our customers the transformation that has taken place.

“We’re thrilled to be only the second of our shops to have Waitrose Unpacked and will be looking for as much feedback as possible from our customers.

“We’re still testing the different concepts so Cheltenham shoppers will have a huge say on how we can develop ideas, which have the potential to be rolled out more widely.”

Reuse and refill shopping ‘exactly what’s needed’, says environmental charity

Waitrose will use the Cheltenham trial to test dedicated refillable zones, featuring dispensers for dried food, a frozen fruit “pick and mix”, as well as refill areas for coffee, wine, beer and Ecover cleaning products.

packaging free
The packaging-free scheme at the Cheltenham store will include dispensers for dried foods and coffee beans (Credit: Waitrose)

Greenpeace UK ocean plastics campaigner Fiona Nicholls believes other UK supermarkets should follow the supermarket’s lead.

She said: “Reuse and refill shopping is exactly what’s needed to drastically reduce supermarket plastic, and it’s clear customers are embracing it.

“Waitrose should be bolder in acting on this customer enthusiasm and roll out its Unpacked initiative across all its stores, and other UK supermarkets should follow Waitrose’s lead without delay.”


Asda to test reuse and reusable packaging next year

In October, fellow UK supermarket Asda said 2020 will see it launch a reusable and refillable packaging trial, which will last at least three months.

This followed a raft of announcements made by the retailer, which included goals to make almost a third of its own-brand plastic packaging from recycled materials by the end of next year.

packaging free
In October, Asda introduced a new target to reduce the total amount of plastic used in its own-brand packaging (Credit: Graham Robson, Geograph,

Asda has also brought forward its target to make 30% of its plastic packaging from recycled content by the end of next year, which the company says will help it avoid using approximately 19,500 tonnes of virgin plastic.

Alongside this, the organisation has introduced a new target to reduce the total amount of plastic used in its own-brand packaging by 15% by February 2021.

Asda CEO Roger Burnley said: “The elimination of avoidable plastic, and crucially single-use plastic, is at the top of our minds – and at the top of our customers’ minds.

“Whilst we have already made great progress in reducing plastic in our business, we are committed to identifying new opportunities to go further and do more.

“Our focus is on removing unnecessary plastic, and where packaging is beneficial to the life of a product we will trial new solutions that are as recycled and as recyclable as possible.”