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Refill and reuse: Co-op and Unilever partner for reusable packaging trial

Unilever and Co-op have launched a refillable and reusable packaging trial to test consumer demand for such a service in a convenience store setting.

The trial will test two refill models – ‘Refill on the go’ and ‘Return on the go’ – with Persil, Simple, Radox and Alberto Balsam products available in reusable stainless-steel bottles that allow shoppers to cut down on single-use plastic.

Unilever’s ‘return on the go’ scheme will allow customers to pick up pre-filled stainless-steel bottles and return them to the store once used, while the ‘refill on the go’ approach allows customers to purchase and refill reusable packaging using a standalone machine in participating stores.

Unilever reusable packaging display in Co-op
Unilever’s reusable packaging in Co-op

The services are available in Co-op’s convenience store in Wolverhampton Road, Codsall, and they will be extended to the retailer’s store in Marsh, Huddersfield later this month. The trial is intended to help the retailer and Unilever gain a deeper understanding of consumer behaviour towards refillable and reusable packaging.

Co-op’s head of format development, Ian McCutcheon, said: “We are continually working to develop new ways to provide added services and choice conveniently.

“The refillable packaging trials with Unilever are designed to test and, learn from consumer behaviour, while providing easy and quick ways for shoppers to cut their plastic consumption. We are facing into a climate and environmental crisis, and we need to act now to support consumers in making ethical purchasing decisions – by making it easier for shoppers to make small changes to their lives, together, we can make a big difference to our environment.”

Unilever UK & Ireland general manager & executive vice president, Sebastian Munden, added: “Our trials with Co-op include our first test of refillable products in a smaller convenience store setting, helping us to further build our understanding of how refills work in different store sizes, locations and shopping missions.”

Unilever is already working closely with another grocer, Asda, to hone the refill concept in that supermarket chain’s recently launched sustainability-focused stores.

“There’s no one-size-fits-all for reuse and refill,” Munden commented.

“Offering a range of our trusted brands and products in refillable stainless steels bottles, we continue to test different models, store formats and locations across the UK to see how shoppers respond, what works best, and what we need to adapt and change.”

Read more about reusable packaging on Green Retail World

[Image credits: Co-op]

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