Do It Yourself All Over Again
By Bernice Hurst, Contributing Editor, RetailWire
Loose dry goods have long been available
in supermarkets. Barrels with scoops and plastic bags or coffee grinders
for beans to pour into paper bags were around way back "in the day" as
the saying goes. Bringing your own containers and filling them with liquids
may be a more 21st century activity designed to reduce packaging
and the price we pay for it.
In an effort to reduce aforesaid packaging
wastage, Wal-Mart’s British chain, Asda, has devised a system whereby customers
can "buy fabric conditioner from a vending machine, which pumps the liquid
from a large vat in the stockroom directly into a pouch," according to The
Daily Telegraph. As an added bonus, re-using the original plastic pouch
reduces the price.
Wrap ("Material Change for a Better Environment")
is a government-supported agency whose aims are to reduce waste, including
the impact of packaging, and to help local authorities improve their collection
and recycling schemes while benchmarking their costs and efficiency. The
organization is contributing to Asda’s trial and hopes that its success
"could lead to additional liquid products, such as olive oil, shampoo,
shower gel and possibly long-life fruit juice" being sold.
Wrap’s retail director, Richard Swannell,
explained, "Re-usable packaging offers us an opportunity to fundamentally
rethink the retail experience. We have already seen positive responses
from consumers in relation to carrier bag reuse. And if this trial enjoys
similar success, it could mark the start of a reusable revolution."
Although a trial eight years ago was unsuccessful,
possibly because there was no price differential, Asda’s laundry buyer,
Simon Spears, believes, "The potential for this is huge. All sorts of things
could be rolled out if there is enough consumer appetite for it … And
the early indications are that consumers really enjoy it."
Are consumers ready for such re-usable
packaging or has self-service gone too far? How viable a green solution
is a refillable option?
This may not be news all over the U.S. but it has potential to spread.
One New York-based colleague says he gets his dishwashing liquid from
a fill-up station at a local green store. "Not so expensive either,"