As Asda opens its first ever refill store - we ask, is it a practical way to shop?

Would you refill your cereal, teabags or washing powder and go?

refil station
(Image credit: Alamy)

The supermarket giant has opened it's first sustainability store in a bid to reduce packaging and waste.

Following the news that your weekly food shop is going to be cheaper in the run up to Christmas, thanks to Waitrose and Co-op slashing it's prices, Asda has launched a new shopping concept.

The supermarket giant has opened it's first sustainability store, which is set to trial the use of refill stations in order to cut down on the amount of plastic packaging being used.

And while many of us welcome ways to save the environment, lots of you will be worry about the added cost. But that's why Asda has promised not to increase the cost of groceries for shoppers who choose this greener option.

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Quite a lot has changed in recent years when it comes to the weekly or monthly shop - from charging for plastic carrier bags to restrictions imposed on shoppers during the Coronavirus pandemic. And with shoppers having to remember to wear best reusable face masks, hand sanitiser and social distancing, we look at whether a refill store is a practical way to shop...

Asda sustainability store, refill station

(Image credit: Asda)

What is the new Asda sustainability store?

The supermarket has teamed up with some of the UK's most popular household brands such as PG Tips, Vimto, Kellogs, Radox and Persil to bring special refill stations to its store in Middleton, Leeds.

Designed to help shoppers reduce, reuse and recycle with ease, it's estimated that the new store will save one million pieces of plastic per year and has been welcomed by Nina Schrank, lead plastics campaigner at Greenpeace UK. She said, "We hope that this store is the first of many...UK consumers want to ditch plastic. The supermarket sector needs to listen to its customers and shift to plastic free groceries and reuse and refill options both in-store and throughout their online delivery operations.”

It's Middleton trial store will enable bosses to test and learn which elements of its new offer work best with customers and with the view of rolling them out to other stores in 2021 and beyond.

Asda sustainability store

(Image credit: Asda, matt timbers)

How do Asda refill stations work?

Under it's promise to be "Greener at Asda Price" the supermarket has launched a national price promise to ensure it's loose and unwrapped produce won't cost more than the wrapped equivalents.

Some of the new store features include:

  • 15 x huge refill stations - offering customers a selection of more than 30 household staples sold in refillable form. Brands such as Kellogg’scereals,PG Tipstea bags, Quaker Oats, LavazzaandTaylors of Harrogatecoffee beans,Vimtocordial andAsda’s own brand rice and pasta are on board.
  • The toiletries refill zones include -popular brands of shampoo, conditioner, Persil laundry detergent, hand wash and for the first time, shower gel from Unilever brandssuch asSimple and Radox sold in refillable format.
  • 53x fresh produce items will be sold in loose/ unwrapped forms - includingcauliflowers, mushrooms, apples, cabbages and baby plum tomatoes.
  • All Asda plants and flowers are to be sold either unwrapped or with a paper wrapping.
  • Outer plastic wrapping on several popular Heinz and Asda Brand canned multipacks including beans and soups will be removed.

Asda sustainability store

(Image credit: Asda, matt timbers)

What will stop some shoppers using Asda refill stations?

Here's just some of the concerns shoppers have over the new concept...

  • Hygiene - Amid the current health pandemic, some shoppers will have concerns over whether the products and the self-serve refill stations will be hygienic. Shopper Tracey pointed out, "How long will they leave that stuff in the containers tho? Losing plastic packaging is a great idea, as long as sell by dates and hygiene are maintained."
  • Cost - While Asda has promised not to charge more for package free food - there will be some people who would need the item to be significantly cheaper to persuade them to make the effort. One shopper tweeted, "It will only work if it’s significantly cheaper to purchase in this way."
  • Queues - We know how long the queues can get at the self-serve check outs, especially when someone has a trolly full, so imagine the queues for the cereal when there's a someone doing a family shop - catering for children's different cereal choices. Added to the process of weighing and labelling, will the hold up put some people off?
  • Allergies - Some shoppers have concerns, one commented, "People with#food#allergywon’t be able to take this risk with unpackaged loose goods like pasta, rice and cereals for risk of cross contamination."
  • Taking your own refill tubs? - It's bad enough forgetting a bag for life and having to buy another but carrying lots of tubs to be refilled is not going to be easy when you just popped in for something unexpectedly. And buying another refill tub is only going to add to the food storage container vortex where you're only left with lids at home.
  • Changing your mind - we've all had moments where we've picked something off the shelf and later put it back deciding we don't need it, but with the new refill stations, what if you pour and then have second thoughts?...

Asda sustainability store

(Image credit: Asda, matt timbers)

What recycling facilities will there be at the new Asda store?

Shoppers will be able to recycle packaging not yet included in kerbside collections at the store. It will cover the likes of crisp and biscuit packets, plastic toys, cosmetic containers and toothpaste tubes.

Asda's first reverse vending machine will be introduced for people to place cans, plastic, glass bottles and clothes hangers in the machines, an initiative which will be rolled out across all stores.

Plastic reduction will also be implemented across its clothing range George - with clothing made from recycled polyester and coat hanger-less denim.

READ MORE:15 sustainable fashion brands you need to know about

A special pop up community zone will enable shoppers to donate their unwanted clothing or bric-a-brac seven days a week - with the first 3 month trail partnership confirmed with the Salvation Army. And a partnership with Pre-Loved - a vintage wholesaler who will be selling vintage clothing.

While it's steps ahead for sustainability, it's only a matter of time before we're all changing the ways we shop...

Selina Maycock

Selina is a Senior Entertainment Writer with more than 15 years of experience in newspapers and magazines. She has covered all things Entertainment for GoodtoKnow, Woman&Home and My Imperfect Life. Before joining Future Publishing, Selina graduated from the University of Sheffield in 2006 with a degree in Journalism. She is fully NCTJ and NCE qualified and has 100wpm shorthand.