Asda’s plan to dispense laundry detergent into reusable pouches is commendable, but it’s also long-overdue and only a small step in a long journey. So why aren’t more supermarkets offering refillable products?
Asda’s giving itself a big pat on the back this week with an announcement that it wants to start pumping laundry detergent into reusable packs from in-store machines.
The supermarket giant has already trialled the idea in five stores. Using 1,000 litre vats, it dispensed own-brand fabric conditioner into customers’ reusable pouches that can be refilled up to 10 times.
I think this is a great idea, and so did others – it won the Innovation of the Year award at the UK Packaging Awards. But my first reaction to this announcement was; why haven’t supermarkets been doing this for years?
Make more packaging reusable
When we asked ‘is excess packaging out of control?‘ back in September, you responded with a resounding ‘yes’, telling us there’s too much unnecessary packaging, like plastic and cardboard. I couldn’t agree more – who wouldn’t welcome more easy ways to reduce the amount we consume and throw away?
So why not extend this scheme to lots of other products? When I travelled around New Zealand I was impressed with the cereal dispensers in supermarkets, for example. It may take a while to get the right processes in place, but it would soon become second nature to manufacturers, supermarkets and consumers.
Richard Swannell, director of retail at Waste and Resources Action Programme (Wrap), who funded Asda’s trial scheme says, ‘We are talking to others in the retail sector about the opportunities for reusable packaging in relation to products ranging from laundry products to paint to deliver further cost and environmental benefits.’
Good. Asda’s right of be proud of its award for this scheme, but the real achievement will be in creating a mind shift in the way everyone shops for a variety of refillable items.