Asda has used the opening of a ground-breaking new sustainability store to launch a customer-facing eco-strategy, promising shoppers will not pay more for greener options.
In a pilot with leading suppliers, the store in Middleton, Leeds, has been converted to include banks of dispensers and weighing machines, while customers will be urged to bring their own containers or use those provided at the store instead of buying new packaging.
The store, which had been due to open in May but was delayed because of the pandemic, includes trials with a raft of major UK brands including PG Tips, Vimto, Kellogg’s, Radox and Persil, in a bid to save one million pieces of plastic per year.
However, Asda has said it plans to roll out the measures “at scale” if they are a success, starting in 2021.
Asda has also launched ‘Greener at Asda Price’, a national price promise that loose and unwrapped products will not cost more than wrapped equivalents.
Asda CEO Roger Burnley said he recognised sustainable shopping must be affordable and accessible to all customers.
In 2018, Asda set a weight-based target of 15% reduction in plastic packaging by 2021, with the company removing over 9,300 tonnes of plastic from its own brand products since then.
It has also announced a new commitment to remove three billion pieces of plastic from own-brand products by 2025.
“Today marks an important milestone in our journey as we tackle plastic pollution and help our customers to reduce, re-use and recycle,” said Burnley.
“ We have always known that we couldn’t go on this journey alone, so it is fantastic to work in tandem with more than 20 of our partners and suppliers, who have answered the call to test innovative sustainable solutions with us.
“This is an issue that matters greatly to our customers – our own insight tells us that more than 80% believe that supermarkets have a responsibility to reduce the amount of single-use plastics in stores. We want to give them the opportunity to live more sustainably by offering them great product choices and value, underpinned by a promise that they won’t pay more for greener options at Asda.
“During the next few months, we will listen to customers and colleagues’ feedback on Middleton so we can understand how we can continue to reduce our environmental impacts, whilst continuing to deliver quality service at a great price.”
Inside Asda Middleton
The retailer has revealed a pilot ‘sustainabiltity store’ at the Middleton, Leeds branch. The trial format is home to a host of new eco-friendly shopping options and supplier tie-ups.
The store includes 15 large refill stations offering customers a selection of more than 30 household staples sold in refillable format. Products include a selection of different Kellogg’s cereals, PG Tips teabags, Quaker Oats, Lavazza and Taylors of Harrogate coffee beans, Vimto cordial and Asda’s own-label rice and pasta.
The refill zone includes well-known brands of shampoo, conditioner, Persil laundry detergent, and handwash and shower gel from Unilever brands such as Simple and Radox – which Asda and Unilever claim is a retail first.
There are also more than 50 produce lines being sold in loose and unwrapped formats, including 29 new lines such as cauliflowers, mushrooms, apples, cabbages and baby plum tomatoes. All Asda plants and flowers at the store will also be sold either unwrapped or with a paper wrapping.
In another supplier tie-up, the store features the removal of outer plastic wrapping on several Heinz and Asda own-label canned multipacks, including beans and soups.
Asda has also installed its first reverse vending machine for cans, plastic and glass drinks bottles in the store, ahead of plans for the rollout of a deposit return system in the UK.
Meanwhile, recycling facilities are in place for items currently difficult to recycle in kerbside collections such as crisp and biscuit packets, plastic toys, cosmetics containers and toothpaste tubes.
In non-food, sustainable fashion lines from George, including clothing made from recycled polyester and coat hanger-less denim, will be showcased. The store will also host a trial with the Salvation Army of a ‘drop and shop’ outlet for customers to donate unwanted clothing and bric-a-brac, while customers can buy vintage clothing from wholesaler Pre-Loved.