Asda x Unilever Adding More UK Supermarket Refill Zones

The refill zones help customers reduce, reuse or recycle their supermarket packaging.
The refill zones help customers reduce, reuse or recycle their supermarket packaging.

Asda has announced that it will be adding more refill zones to four stores in the United Kingdom by the end of 2021 to help customers reduce, reuse or recycle their supermarket packaging. The roll-out follows the successful launch of the Middleton refill zone in October 2020, which featured Unilever brands and Beauty Kitchen-engineered refill technology.

The largest refill store to date will open at York in October 2021 with 18 standalone bays featuring over 70 branded and own-label products in refillable format with brand new product types including dried Mars pet food such as Whiskas and Pedigree and additional ranges of snacking, desserts and baking products.

A nine bay standalone refill fixture will launch in the Milton Keynes store in December, featuring branded and own-label cereals, pasta, rice, tea, coffee, snacking, desserts and baking products. The store will also sell refillable pet food, laundry and toiletry products within specific aisles.

Asda’s first refill offer in Scotland at the Glasgow Toryglen store will launch in August, featuring cereals, rice, pasta, tea, coffee, toiletry and laundry products sold in specific aisles.

Branded and own-label tea, coffee, cereals, rice, pasta, laundry and toiletries will also launch in specific aisles at the Rugby store in August.

All four stores will feature Persil, Radox, Simple and Alberto Balsam products from Unilever in stainless steel reusable bottles.

These will be tested in two refill formats; refill on the go where shoppers can refill their bottle using a machine in-store and, in a global first for Unilever and Asda, return on the go where shoppers can pick up pre-filled bottles off the shelf and return them in-store once used.

Susan Thomas, director of commercial sustainability at Asda, said: “We know that reducing packaging waste matters to our customers and they have embraced the refill options available at the Middleton store, with many of the products available already exceeding expectations. Our ultimate goal is to make refill and reuse a part of every Asda shopping trip and to achieve this we have to make it easy, accessible and affordable for all our customers to shop this way. Middleton was a great introduction to how customers engage with refill products and we are now looking to accelerate these learnings by trialling different refill options in more stores to understand which aspects can potentially developed further.”

Sebastian Munden, Unilever UK and Ireland’s executive VP and general manager, said: “Asda share our ambition and urgency to tackle plastic pollution, so it’s great to scale up our partnership with them and continue to test different refill models in their stores. Including our first ever trial of reusable stainless steel bottles which are available pre-filled on shelf and then dropped off in-store once used. By testing and learning what works best in-store, we can understand how to make it as easy as possible for shoppers to make sustainable choices, whilst still using the brands they know and love.”

Jo Morley, head of campaigns at City to Sea, the organization behind World Refill Day, said: "We know that the public are more concerned about plastic pollution than ever before, and looking for ways to live with less waste, so we welcome the news that Asda are going to be expanding their refill offering with the launch of four new refill stores. This World Refill Day, we’re encouraging people to make changes to their everyday shopping and find out what they can refill near them, and its brilliant to see Asda leading the way, making refill and reuse more accessible and more affordable.”

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