Tesco has teamed up with “zero-waste shopping platform” Loop to trial reusable packaging as part of its online delivery service.
Over 150 household products such as sauces, yoghurts, soaps, cereals, and washing detergents will be available in reusable packaging as part of Tesco’s strategy to cut down on plastic and other single-use materials.
The move comes as research shows Covid has left shoppers more environmentally conscious, with three-quarters of shoppers in the UK and Ireland wanting recyclable packaging and a third wanting products that are locally sourced or sustainable.
Loop customers can schedule for their empty packaging to be collected and cleaned before it is refilled by the manufacturers. Consumers will pay a deposit fee on each piece of packaging, which is fully refunded upon return of the packaging, Tesco said.
Products from brands including Heinz, Coca-Cola, Danone, Nivea and BrewDog will be available in reusable packaging.
Giles Bolton, responsible sourcing director at Tesco, said: “This pilot partnership is key to finding a scalable reusable packaging solution for our customers. We will listen to their feedback and help Loop develop the online service throughout the year. The range will increase over time and next year we will introduce some of the products in reusable packaging into our own stores.”
Tom Szaky, Loop’s chief executive told BBC News the service had seen double-digit growth in its markets in France and the US during the coronavirus crisis.
When questioned on whether customers are likely to be put off the idea of reusable packaging over Covid safety concerns, Szaky reiterated that each item is professionally cleaned between customers.
He said: “When you go to the dentist, has it ever crossed your mind that the tools the dentist is using have been in hundreds, maybe thousands of mouths before yours? No? It comes down to cleaning.”
Research by e-commerce firms PFS and LiveArea found almost three-quarters of consumers expected online retailers and brands to use recyclable packaging (73%) or minimise their use of packaging (74%).
A report said the temporary closure of physical shops had provided the opportunity for many consumers to reassess and re-evaluate their shopping habits.
Over a third (37%) of shoppers in the UK and Ireland said they were more conscious of the environmental impact of their online shopping habits than before the pandemic and 35% said when making a purchase, the product had to be naturally sourced, locally sourced or sustainable.
Christophe Pecoraro, managing director of PFS Europe, said: “For retailers, a change in behaviour and beliefs means they must work even harder to gain and maintain loyalty from consumers by positioning themselves as a brand that understands the needs and desires of its customers throughout the entire buying journey.
“Getting the balance right is important, but so too is authenticity. Consumers can see through empty gestures – substance is essential. Consumers are now more carefully considering what, where and how they buy items. The brands that meet these needs will be best positioned to thrive in the future.”
Meanwhile Tim Steiner, Ocado CEO, said the online retailer had seen 15 years of growth in less than 15 weeks due to increased online shopping due to the Covid crisis. Ocado sales grew by 27% in the first half of the year, compared to the same period in 2019.
Steiner said UK sales of online groceries had doubled during the crisis and were likely to double again within a few years.
He said: “The world as we know it has changed. As a result of Covid-19 we have seen years of growth in the online grocery market condensed into a matter of months, and we won’t be going back. We are confident that accelerated growth in the online channel will continue, leading to a permanent redrawing of the landscape of the grocery industry worldwide.”
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