Grocers urged to make refillable products more widely available

Grocers urged to make refillable products more widely available
// Which? says grocers must do more to make refillable products widely available to customers
// 75% of consumers are open to buying refillable products but only 36% have seen them on sale
// 9 out of 12 popular refillable products did not have labels indicating they can be refilled when finished

Grocers and manufacturers must do more to make refillable products widely available to increasingly keen shoppers, a leading consumer group has urged.

Shoppers were struggling to find environmentally friendly refills on supermarket shelves, and a lack of clear labelling meant many may be unaware they were available, Which? said.

A survey by the group found 75 per cent of consumers were open to buying refillable products but only 36 per cent had seen them on sale.


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Meanwhile 29 per cent said difficulty finding them was the main reason they had not bought any in the last year.

On the other hand, nine out of 12 popular refillable personal care and home-cleaning products did not have labels indicating they could be refilled when they were finished.

Just four of them had packaging that could be fully recycled in most councils’ household collections, Which?’s research indicated.

The refills for five products came in flexible pouches that are notoriously difficult to recycle, although the standard packaging versions, except the pumps, could be recycled.

Although difficult to recycle, flexible pouches are said to use less plastic and cut carbon emissions by taking up less space while being transported.

Which? found the 12 refill products analysed were almost always cheaper per millilitre compared to their originals.

Waitrose, Asda and Aldi are among those leading the way with trialling refillables of pantry staples in their stores, while most grocers already offer reusable bags for loose fruit and veg.

“Our research shows there is demand and savings to be had for consumers who switch to refills,” Which? head of sustainability Michael Briggs said.

“However, many shoppers have trouble finding them on supermarket shelves and a lack of clear labelling means consumers may be unaware that a refillable option is available.

“Which? is calling on brands and supermarkets to make refillable products more widely available to customers.

“Recycling labels should also be provided on all grocery products so that people know how they can responsibly dispose of the items they use.”

Which? surveyed 2008 UK adults in February.

with PA Wires

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