retail news in context, analysis with attitude

The BBC reports that Tesco plans to test a reusable packaging program in 10 stores in the East of England, hoping that the "zero waste shopping service" will meet the "demand for less single-use plastic packaging."

According to the story, "Customers will be able to buy common household goods in reusable packaging that can be returned to the store to be used again … Tesco says that if customers at the 10 stores were to switch just three products in their weekly shop, such as tomato ketchup, a bottle of soft drink and washing-up liquid, the packaging would be used and reused more than two-and-a-half million times a year."

The BBC goes on:  "Shoppers will be able to opt to purchase 88 popular products with reusable and durable packaging, including Persil washing up powder, Fever-Tree drinks and mixers, Carex handwash, Tetley Tea and BrewDog beers.

"The reusable packaging and zero-waste shopping experience is provided through Tesco's partnership with reusable packaging platform Loop.

"But regular versions of these products using single-use packaging, including plastic, cardboard, glass and Tetra Paks, will still continue to be available at the stores."

The BBC also notes that "This is different from the zero-waste shop movement run by small, independent businesses.  That traditionally encourages shoppers to bring their own containers or make use of paper bags or existing containers, such as glass jars, Tupperware boxes or old metal biscuit tins, that have been donated by the local community for people to use.

"Rival supermarket chain Waitrose began trialling zero-waste shopping in 2019, offering large dispensers for foodstuffs and encouraging shoppers to bring their own packaging, similar to the zero-waste entrepreneurs."

KC's View:

The only way that these kinds of initiatives will get any traction will be if they are marketed to consumers with the same vigor as soap and beer. It remains to be seen if that's going to happen.