Supermarket group Tesco is teaming up with zero waste shopping platform Loop to enable online customers to buy groceries from leading brands in reusable containers which are delivered to their door, then collected, sanitised and refilled. The scheme will initially cover 150 items, including sauces, yoghurt, laundry detergent and shampoo.
The scheme has been welcomed by environmentalists including Greenpeace as an opportunity to cut down on plastic waste and single-use packaging.
“From Waitrose’s Unpacked concept at the extreme end to the increasing prevalence of refill stations from brands such as Ecover in-store, sustainable packaging remains a key issue within the grocery market. However the challenge has been to provide workable solutions for the online market, an issue which the COVID-19 outbreak will only accelerate with the channel set to take a record 9.1% share in 2020. Indeed consumer concerns within this area were already high pre-COVID-19, with 45% of online grocery shoppers worried about the environmental impact of ordering groceries online and 68% saying they find it hard to judge how sustainable grocery packaging is online. (see: Online Grocery Retailing – UK, March 2020).
The solution put forward here by Tesco and Loop is a logical one, and taps into other circular systems we have seen in other categories. The fact major brands are involved, including Heinz and Coca-Cola, is a massive plus and the hassle free collection service will certainly add convenience. COVID-19 of course provides a challenge to such services with Mintel’s tracker data showing 55% of consumers are concerned about who may have touched a product’s packaging before they pick it up and indeed 45% think COVID-19 has made using in-store refills less hygienic. Loop has been strong on this by putting forward a rigorous cleaning protocol, and indeed in the short term consumers may see its service as being preferable to those that are provided, and less easy to manage, in-store.
Overall it is a very interesting move and one of the best solutions to the packaging problem online we have seen. It will be interesting to see the consumer reaction however if the trial proves successful it will be a significant step forward for the sector. For more on this topic see Mintel’s upcoming new Report Ethical Retailing: Inc Impact of COVID-19 – UK, August 2020.”