Abel and Cole unpackaged

Source: Abel & Cole

The service will offer staple items such as pasta, rice and lentils in reusable containers

Online grocer Abel & Cole is set to remove single-use plastic from a range of pantry items – and deliver them in returnable, reusable pots instead.

The direct to consumer business claimed the service – which it has called Club Zero – will be the first of its kind in the UK.

It will be trialled on 300 of Abel & Cole’s customers, with a plan to roll the service out to all 60,000 customers by the end of February.

Members of the service will be able to order ­staple items such as pasta, rice and lentils in reusable containers, which are nicknamed “VIPs” (very important pots) and will be collected by Abel & Cole the following week.

The retailer hopes the trial will represent a “shift in the way people purchase staple pantry goods”.

MD Hannah Shipton said that, as people have become increasingly aware of climate change, the brand has witnessed a “huge growth” in ­appetite for sustainable products and ways to shop.

“A significant part of the trial is establishing the return and reuse rates of the pots, both of which play a fundamental part in driving the environmental benefits,” she said. “We will use the trial results to set a benchmark from which we will look to continually improve.”

Abel & Cole is best known for its organic fruit and ­veg boxes, recipe kits and chilled goods but it has more than 2,600 ambient grocery SKUs available to purchase, including toiletries, babyfood, bread and cooking sauces.

It estimates it has saved 55 million single-use plastic bags from landfill and reduced ­single-use packaging waste by 88% in the 30 years since it was founded.

The delivery business certified as a B Corp last year, vowing to find “innovative ways to be as sustainable as possible”.