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Asda starts fabric re-useable conditioner trial

Supermarket Asda has launched a new trial today (25 January) that will see fabric conditioner being sold in re-usebale pouches from vending machines, introducing a new concept in shopping and reducing packaging waste.

The trial, which has been funded by the Waste & Resources Action Programme, and partners eziserv [packaging innovation firm], McBrides and Unilever, begins in Asdas Barnsley store and will be rolled out across four other Asda stores.

The self-dispensing technology has been developed by eziserv with support from project partners McBrides, Oakdene Hollins and Unilever. The fabric conditioner will be piped from 1,000 litre, re-useable containers from the back-of-store via overhead pipes to a dispensing point in the retail aisle. The product will be transported in bulk and held back of store then piped to the aisle (see MRW story).

Customers can bring the pouch back for refilling at no extra cost to purchasing a standard bottle, in order to reduce the amount of packaging thrown away.

It allows customers to purchase concentrated fabric conditioner re-useable pouches that can be refilled up to 10 times, saving 40p each time compared to the same volume of product in traditional plastic bottles. WRAP state that the new technology will offer consumer savings and offer retailers significant business benefits including carbon impact reduction across the supply chain.

WRAP retail director Dr Richard Swannell said: Re-useable packaging offers us an opportunity to fundamentally rethink the retail experience. We have already seen positive responses from consumers in relation to carrier bag re-use. And if this trial enjoys similar success, it could mark the start of a re-usable revolution.

The retail industry is watching this trial with a great deal of interest because there are clear opportunities for re-usable packaging in relation to all manner of products ranging from laundry products to paint.

Asda corporate policy for sustainability and ethics head Julian Walker-Palin said: Asda already leads the retail sector in packaging reduction and has reduced packaging on Asda products by 28 per cent since 2007. Our mantra at Asda is to make sustainability affordable for all and this project directly engages our customers on this by offering them a great product which not only has a lower packaging footprint but also has a lower price tag due to its reduced environmental footprint.

Eziserv spokesman Richard Garnett said: This launch is a significant step that enables customers to radically reduce packaging waste while making great savings on the new products they would normally buy in traditional bottles. The dispense point and innovative new pack are simple, fun and easy to use. If this trial is successful the concept can be applied to a range of products.

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