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London shop launches packaging-less refill section

The supermarket where you refill your own containers. Image: Unpackaged

Organic food chain Planet Organic has teamed up with Unpackaged, a business which provides alternatives to unnecessary packaging in retail. Instead, customers are encouraged to bring their own containers to refill. 

Unpackaged was founded in 2006 by Catherine Conway who believed there was a better way to sell products without unnecessary packaging. Her dream was to set up a beautiful shop that made it easy for customers to come and refill all their daily essentials. The Unpackaged market stall launched as a test in 2006.

With an eye on taking the Unpackaged concept mainstream, Conway was keen to go from ‘corner shop’ to ‘supermarket’, and so has partnered with Planet Organic, a chain of six organic supermarkets in London.

In a 12 month trial in the Muswell Hill store, Unpackaged has designed and delivered what is thought to be the world’s first fully automated self service refill section, meaning the customer can weigh their empty containers, refill and print a bar coded label to take to the checkout. This complies with all UK trading standard regulations covering the legality of weighing and labeling.

Conway, director of Unpackaged, said: “We are delighted to be taking our refill concept from corner shop to Planet Organic who share our vision and commitment to help customers shop more sustainably. We hope that this 12 month trial will show that refilling can work in a self service supermarket setting and inspire other large retailers to follow suit.”

Toby Watts, marketing co-ordinator at Planet Organic added: "At Planet Organic we've always prided ourselves on our ethical credentials as a business. Having the new Unpackaged section at our Muswell Hill store is an exciting opportunity to offer zero waste staples to our eco-conscious customers, but most importantly for us, it just feels like the right thing to do."

By shopping in an Unpackaged way, Conway says there is an average 48 per cent reduction in emissions compared to buying packaged alternatives.

By Lucy

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