Refill Coalition member M&S 'Fill Your Own' concept

Fill Your Own: M&S expands grocery refill concept to third store

The Marks & Spencer (M&S) ‘Fill Your Own’ concept has been introduced to a third store, allowing customers in Staines to top up their groceries without having to take home new packaging.

M&S Food’s new ‘test and learn renewal shop’ in Staines’ Two Rivers Shopping Centre has installed dispensers for more than 50 core grocery lines and frozen fruit. Shoppers can fill their own containers with products such as pasta, rice, cereal, and confectionary before making their purchase.

Customers can also purchase reusable containers, or use free recyclable paper bags on offer.

The retailer, which alongside fellow food retailers Asda and Waitrose is beginning to pepper its UK estate with these facilities, said the M&S Fill Your Own concept will be a key feature of new format stores as they are redesigned or opened.

Although not revealing exact figures, M&S said demand for this type of service has been strong in the Hedge End and Manchester stores which have offered these facilities since December 2019 and March 2020 respectively. Some 40% of the M&S Fill Your Own product lines are outselling their packaged alternatives, according to the retailer.

Best-selling cupboard essentials such as four berry muesli, basmati rice, chocolate raisins, and whole porridge oats are all on offer through the service and, as of this week, so too are corn flakes, rice pops and tri-coloured pasta.

M&S Fill Your Own in the retailer's Staines store
M&S is encouraging consumers to think about packaging

The initiative, which also includes refillable frozen fruit such as mango, pineapple and raspberries, is part of M&S’s company-wide target to reduce, reuse and recycle packaging as much as it can, and cut down on the plastic it uses.

Paul Willgoss, M&S Food’s director of food technology, commented: “As we continue testing and learning from Fill Your Own, it’s clear that demand for refillables remains strong.

“We know families particularly enjoy shopping the concept as a fun activity, so our new store in the popular Staines shopping centre is the ideal next location for Fill Your Own. But most importantly, our customers care about the issue of plastic and this initiative is just one part of our plan to help them reduce, reuse and recycle – because we know our actions today will help to protect the planet tomorrow.”

Against the backdrop of the coronavirus pandemic, M&S has ensured further hygiene measures for Fill Your Own are in place, including increased cleaning and hand sanitiser. Staff are on hand to help customers fill, weigh and pay.

M&S said that since 2018, its food arm has removed over 2,000 tonnes of plastic and has stopped using black plastic as part of its target to make all its packaging recyclable by 2022.

The retailer is working with organisations like Wrap and it has signed the UK Plastics Pact, as part of its wider recycled packaging commitment.

In addition, M&S has said it is in support of the government’s proposed regulatory changes known as ‘Extended Producer Responsibility’, which are expected to fund improved recycling infrastructure across the UK and incentivise businesses to use materials which are easier to recycle.

A plastic take-back scheme is currently in 16 M&S stores, enabling consumers to bring back any difficult to recycle plastic such as black plastic, films and foils from any retailer. This packaging will be collected and turned into playground equipment, according to M&S, and more of its shops are expected to introduce these facilities in due course.

Read more about M&S on Green Retail World

[Images credit: M&S]

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