Asda customers urged to bring refillable containers in bid to slash plastic use

Supermarket aims to cut 19,500 tonnes of non-recycled plastic use by end of 2020

Asda is to encourage customers to bring their own refillable containers to the supermarket in an effort to reduce use of non-recyclable plastic.

The company, which is owned by American retail corporation Walmart, has said it is going to implement reusable and refillable packaging trials for “at least” three months next year.

A spokesperson for the firm said the trials could involve shoppers using dispensers in-store to refill their glass or plastic containers.

While it is not confirmed what food customers will be able to fill their containers with, Asda may follow in the footsteps of Waitrose, where goods such as pasta, rice and cereal can be dispensed into containers.

By the end of 2020, Asda is aiming for a third of its own-brand plastic packaging to have been made from recycled materials.

According to the supermarket, this measure will cut approximately 19,500 tonnes of non-recycled plastic use.

“The elimination of avoidable plastic, and crucially single-use plastic, is at the top of our minds – and at the top of our customers’ minds,” said Roger Burnley, chief executive of Asda.

“Our focus is on removing unnecessary plastic, and where packaging is beneficial to the life of a product we will trial new solutions that are as recycled and as recyclable as possible.”

Asda stated that since February 2018, more than 6,500 tonnes of plastic packaging has been cut from its own-brand range.

The supermarket is hoping to reduce the total amount of plastic used in its own-brand packaging by 15 per cent by February 2021 and to make all its own-brand packaging recyclable by 2025.

Tesco is also encouraging its customers to become more eco-conscious, launching the UK's first large-scale trial of refillable containers for online shoppers early next year.

The scheme is called Loop and will include 5,000 customers whose online orders will be delivered in stainless steel, aluminium, thick plastic or glass containers that they can return to Tesco to be cleaned and refilled before being sent to another shopper.

Customers will have to pay a deposit for each container to encourage them to return them. Prices will vary depending on the size of the container, with glass bottles costing 80p and large metal containers, which will be filled with things like ice cream or body lotion, will cost £5.

Not all products will available for purchase via Loop, but around 150 will, including some from brands such as Tropicana and Persil.

In November 2018, a study revealed that Britain's top 10 supermarkets are flooding the planet with approximately 810,000 tonnes of single-use plastic every year.

With that in mind, several supermarkets have been making stronger efforts to champion sustainability in recent years.

German supermarket Aldi has pledged to make all its own-label packaging recyclable, reusable or compostable by 2022.

Meanwhile, in June 2018 Iceland introduced a plastic bottle recycling scheme into four of its stores across the UK, whereby consumers were rewarded with a 10p voucher for every deposit.

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