Source: Co-op

Two refill concepts are being trialled

Unilever is working with Co-op to test two reusable packaging concepts at a store in Codsall.

Two refill models will be trialled: ‘Return on the go’ and ‘Refill on the go’. The first sees customers buy Unilever products pre-filled in stainless steel containers that can be returned in store in exchange for a money-off coupon after being used or decanted at home. The second allows customers to purchase one of the stainless steel containers and refill them using a standalone refill machine in store.

Several of Unilever’s best-known brands are involved in the trial, including Persil, Simple, Radox and Alberto Balsam.

The trial will be extended to a second store – in Marsh, Huddersfield – later this month.

“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,” said Co-op head of format development Ian McCutcheon.

“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,” he added.

Unilever is involved in Tesco’s similar initiative with Loop – which launched in stores in September – through which a number of its products are available for purchase in stainless steel containers, which can be returned to be washed and refilled.

Unilever brands are among 88 branded and Tesco own-label products available in refillables aisles across 10 Tesco stores.

“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,” said Unilever UK & Ireland general manager and executive VP Sebastian Munden.

“There’s no ‘one-size-fits-all’ for reuse and refill,” he added. “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.” 

Earlier this year, Co-op pledged to radically reduce the carbon that comes from its products and operations and to become a net zero business by 2040. It will sell fully carbon neutral own-brand food and drink by 2025, it has promised.

Munden said Unilever was working to “help people to make more sustainable choices every day and reduce the single use of virgin plastic with the speed and urgency needed”.