A retailer claims that 25 of 44 products sold loose are more popular than their packaged counterparts

Marks & Spencer will continue to offer a refill program that allows customers to replenish their own food containers. Spencer will extend its refill program that allows shoppers to refill their own containers. This is after research by Spencer revealed that over three quarters of respondents said they wanted to reduce the amount of packaging used.

The initial trial of the retailer’s “fill your own” scheme in its Hedge End store, Southampton, was a success. It offers 44 packaging-free products, from coffee to confectionery. A second store will open in Manchester city center.

A new survey has revealed that finding refill shops that offer them is the biggest obstacle to refill schemes. 38% of respondents cited this as a reason, followed by 18% who cited the need to transport containers and the inconvenience involved in doing so. Unpackaged products are perceived as more expensive.

M&S praised the success of its Southampton experiment and said that 25 of its 44 “fill-yourself” products outsold the packaged alternatives. Its triple chocolate crunch cereal and whole porridge oatmeal are bestsellers.

Paul Willgoss, M&S director of food technology, said that “Our fill your own” concept is something we are focusing on as part our action to reduce plastic packaging, support our customers reuse and recycle, and that we want to better understand refill throughout the entire store process, from behind-the scenes operations to working alongside our customers to promote behaviour change.”

To date, fill-your-own models were used mainly by independent retailers and delicatessens, but supermarkets are now testing them in an effort to reduce single-use plastics.

Sainsbury’s has recently begun a trial with Ecover refill stations for laundry detergent and washing-up liquid. The superstore is located in Haringey, north London. Customers can refill bottles up to 50 times. This could save over 1m tonnes of plastic per year. Later this year, the trial will be extended at 19 more stores.

Waitrose created a dedicated refill area at its Botley Road store in Oxford last year, offering refillable options for products including wine and beer – including .the anti-food waste Toast Ale, rice and cleaning materials. Since then, it has been tested in its Cheltenham and Wallingford stores as well as Abingdon.

Asda will open its first “sustainability store” in Many. Refill points will be available for customers in Middleton and Leeds.

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