Tesco and Carrefour are to pilot refillable containers in their stores as part of an initiative designed to change the world’s reliance on single-use packaging.
The containers are part of the “Loop” programme developed by TerraCycle and consumer product companies including PepsiCo, Unilever, Mars Petcare, The Clorox Company, The Body Shop, Coca-Cola European Partners, Mondelez International and Danone.
Carrefour said it would initially test the system in France but it plans to sell around 20 products, such as honey, oil and spices, in returnable containers.
Describing how the system worked Carrefour said: “When customers makes their first purchase, they pay the deposit and if they want, opt to have the product automatically replaced.
“Consumers will only pay the deposit for the packaging once, and this amount will gradually be refunded to them, each time they return packaging.”
Packaging is collected from consumers' homes, washed, refilled and reintroduced into the circuit.
TerraCycle CEO Tom Szaky said: “Loop will not just eliminate the idea of packaging waste, but greatly improve the product experience and the convenience in how we shop.
“The aim was to offer a zero-waste option for the world’s most popular consumer products while maintaining affordability, improving convenience and returning used disposable or durable items to a circular life cycle either through reuse or recycling.”
The Loop technology was launched at the World Economic Forum’s Annual Meeting at Davos.
Meanwhile, Morrisons is trialling reusable paper bags costing 20p in eight stores, as well as increasing the cost of plastic bags by 50% in a bid to reduce plastic use.
Morrisons will now charge 15p, rather than 10p, for its plastic bags.
Andy Atkinson, Morrisons customer and marketing director, said: “These new paper bags do exactly the same job as standard plastic carrier bags. They are tough, reusable and can help keep a large amount of plastic out of the environment.”
Since eliminating 5p plastic bags last year, the retailer said it has reduced overall plastic bag sales by a quarter. It has also switched from plastic bags to paper bags for its loose fruit and vegetables and cut plastic on a number of its products.
However, the move to paper bags has been criticised by some environmental campaigners who say paper bags use more resources.
A study from the Environment Agency found the lifecycle of a paper carrier bag has a greater impact on global warming than its plastic counterpart. It said paper bags are only better than plastic if used four times or more.
The number of single-use plastic bags sold has reduced by 1bn since the 5p charge was launched in 2015, according to government figures. The government is currently holding a consultation which could see the charge double to 10p by January 2020.
In a bid to tackle plastic pollution, Waitrose has launched a £1m initiative to fund projects that can demonstrate a positive impact on the problem, including packaging alternatives, reducing use, and increasing reuse of plastics in the food, agriculture and farming industries.
The retailer recently announced measures to save 134m bags each year and remove disposable coffee cups from all of its stores.