Asda launches 'greener price' promise and sustainability store

Rebecca Smithers Consumer affairs correspondent
·3 min read
<span>Photograph: Eddie Keogh/Reuters</span>
Photograph: Eddie Keogh/Reuters

Asda is to unveil a strategy to help cut down on single-use plastics, pledging that “greener” products without packaging will not carry a hefty price tag, as it opens a sustainability trial store.

To encourage customers to shop sustainably across all its stores, the UK’s third largest supermarket is launching Greener at Asda Price, a promise that loose and unwrapped fruit and vegetables will not cost more than their wrapped equivalents at any of it stores. It aims to tackle criticism that shoppers who want to avoid unnecessary plastic packaging are being punished by being charged more for loose produce.

Its new-style shop in Middleton, a suburb of Leeds, aims to help shoppers reduce, reuse and recycle with ease through a range of initiatives, from refill stations to flowers and plants unwrapped or with paper wrapping, which Asda estimates could save 1m pieces of plastic every year.

As a “live” trial it will be monitored from Asda’s nearby head office, with customers asked to give feedback on the various schemes that could be a model for other stores. The trial store had been scheduled to open in May but was delayed owing to Covid-19.

“Today marks an important milestone in our journey as we tackle plastic pollution and help our customers to reduce, reuse and recycle,” said Roger Burnley, Asda’s chief executive. “We have always known that we couldn’t go on this journey alone, so it is fantastic to work in tandem with more than 20 of our partners and suppliers who have answered the call to test innovative sustainable solutions with us.”

The store will be the first Asda in the UK where shoppers can fill up their own containers with a range of products, from big brands to own-label pasta. The 15 large refill stations will offer more than 30 household staples including Kellogg’s cereals, PG Tips teabags, Quaker Oats, and Lavazza and Taylors of Harrogate coffee beans.

A total of 53 fresh produce lines in loose and unwrapped format will include cauliflowers, mushrooms, apples, cabbages and baby plum tomatoes.

Shoppers will also find recycling facilities for items that are difficult to recycle in local kerbside collections such as crisp and biscuit packets, plastic toys, cosmetic containers and toothpaste tubes.

The “unpackaged” model that relies on refills has been used predominantly by independent retailers and farm shops but is increasingly being tested by supermarkets.

In June last year Waitrose launched a trial at a store in Oxford, offering refillable options for products including wine and beer, rice and cleaning materials, as well as packaging-free loose fruit and veg. Refillable zones have since been added to its stores in Cheltenham, Wallingford and Abingdon, with trials continuing during lockdown. Its sister company John Lewis announced last October a sustainability trial at its Oxford store to test shoppers’ behaviour.

Asda’s new store will also house a community zone for popups and partnerships with charities. The first is a three-month trial with the Salvation Army of a “drop and shop” outlet for customers to donate unwanted clothing and bric-a-brac.