Waitrose Unpacked: why growlers should be the norm in supermarkets

Wine and beer are currently available on tap at an Oxford branch of Waitrose, as the company trials initiatives to cut down on “unnecessary” plastic and glass packaging.

The retailer is testing out a number of new systems at its Botley Road shop in Oxford, including a dedicated refillable zone, a frozen ‘pick and mix’ and a borrow-a-box scheme.

In addition, four different wines and four different beers available on tap to take home in reusable bottles to cut down on the use of glass bottles.

“We are determined to build on the work we’ve already done to reduce packaging – and this test will take our efforts to a whole new level as we help the growing number of customers who want to shop in a more sustainable way,” head of CSR for Waitrose & Partners, Tor Harris, said.

“This test has huge potential to shape how people might shop with us in the future so it will be fascinating to see which concepts our customers have an appetite for. We know we’re not perfect and have more to do, but we believe this is an innovative way to achieve something different.”

The test, which the grocer is calling Waitrose Unpacked, will run for 11 weeks until 18 August

All the wines are from premium bag-in-box company When in Rome, which has been available at Waitrose for a number of years. Meanwhile, sustainable beer brand Toast, which brews using leftover bread, is supplying the beer for the scheme.

Waitrose sells its own growlers for £4 each, while a beer refill comes in at roughly £10 for three pints, according to Toast Ale’s global brand director Louisa Ziane.

Ziane, Toast Ale’s the drinks business that, while many independent breweries and bottle shops do already sell growlers, it would be better if more retailers could give consumers a “broader option”.

“Surprisingly lots of craft beer fans already have them,” she told db, “and would be cool to see broader adoption.”

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