Credit GoUnpackaged 2

Source: GoUnpackaged

The trial has launched in Aldi’s Solihull store

The Refill Coalition has launched its first in-store UK pilot, three years after the sustainability initiative was first convened.

On Monday, a refill system featuring a standardised reusable bulk vessel developed by the coalition launched in an Aldi supermarket in Solihull.

It will allow customers to restock dry goods including pasta and cereals, as well as household products using their own containers. Crucially, the system will enable the retailer to offer “refills at scale” as the vessel has been designed to be removed, cleaned and then sent back to suppliers to refill.

Under the second stage of the pilot, Ocado Retail is set to launch a home delivery version of the scheme in “early” 2024. If it is a success, coalition retailers intend to roll out the solution to more stores, and online.

“We are pleased to have installed the first in-store refill solution as part of the Refill Coalition in our Solihull store,” said Aldi plastics and packaging director Luke Emery.

“We are continuing our work to reduce single-use plastics and packaging, and making unpackaged product options more commonplace for our customers is a key part of this.”

The pilot marks a significant milestone in The Refill Coalition’s efforts to reduce single-use plastic waste.

The collaboration – of which the current members are the consultancy GoUnpackaged, supply chain solutions company Chep, Aldi and Ocado Retail – was first convened in 2020 with the aim of developing an industry standard “end to end” refill solution.

The group had originally aimed to launch in 2022, but the launch date has been delayed on several occasions. Morrisons and M&S left the scheme in May 2023.

The coalition has partnered with manufacturers Berry Global, Digi, Eden and Trade Fixtures to develop the dispensing equipment, which has been supported by funding from Innovate UK.

The new in-store system will enable retailers to save up to 24 single-use plastic packs each time a vessel is refilled, which will enable them to sell products at a cheaper price than packaged equivalents.

Under the online version of the scheme, Ocado will ship consumer-sized vessels direct to customers alongside their standard Ocado order. Packages will then be returned to the driver when empty.

“We’re delighted to be launching this new refill solution – initially into Aldi, followed by Ocado Retail’s online launch early next year – a system we’re proud to have worked on for over three years to bring to market,” said The Refill Coalition in a joint statement.

“As a coalition, we share the mutual objective of reducing single-use plastic packaging and believe that the solution we have developed presents a landmark opportunity for us to make a step change in the commercialisation of refills, which we know can play a significant role in the reduction of single-use plastic packaging.”

The coalition intends to demonstrate the system to industry colleagues in early 2024.

“We’re so proud to have convened the coalition and brought a brand-new solution to market that has the potential for adoption across a global supply chain,” said Catherine Conway, director at GoUnpackaged.

“The coalition has worked tirelessly since 2020, and overcome numerous obstacles, to reach this go live point. An industry-wide approach will lead to a refill system that works for everyone in the supply chain and make refilling easier for shoppers.”