Co-op and Unilever announce refill store trials

The trial will test two refill models: ‘Refill on the go’ and ‘Return on the go’

Unilever and Co-op have announced a partnership together which will see them launch refillable packaging store trials.

They said their aim was to gain a “deeper understanding of consumer behaviour towards refillable and reusable packaging in a convenience environment”. The move is Unilever’s first within a convenience store.

The trial will test two refill models: ‘Refill on the go’ and ‘Return on the go’.

Some of Unilever’s best-known brands – Persil, Simple, Radox and Alberto Balsam – will be available in reusable stainless-steel bottles, providing shoppers with a quick and easy option to cut plastic consumption.

Unilever’s ‘return on the go’ scheme – which is being trialled near Wolverhampton – aims to allow customers to “conveniently pick up pre-filled stainless-steel bottles and return in-store once used”.

Meanwhile, the ‘refill on the go’ approach – trialled in a larger Co-op store in West Yorkshire – allows customers to purchase and refill reusable stainless-steel bottles using a standalone refill machine in-store.

The trial – which tests different refill models, store formats and locations – is now available in Co-op’s convenience store in Wolverhampton Rd, Codsall, and, will extend to the Co-op store in Marsh, Huddersfield, later this month (November).

Co-op’s head of format development, Ian McCutcheon, said: “We are continually working to develop new ways to provide added services and choice conveniently. 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.

“We are facing 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.”

Unilever UK and Ireland general manager and executive vice-president, Sebastian Munden, added: “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.

“There’s no ‘one-size-fits-all’ for reuse and refill. Offering a range of our trusted brands and products in refillable stainless steel 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. Working closely with partners like Co-op, we can help people to make more sustainable choices every day and reduce the single use of virgin plastic with the speed and urgency needed.”

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