Supermarket giant Tesco is running a trial in two stores to allow customers the opportunity to remove and leave packaging in store after they have bought their products, as part of an information gathering exercise that may influence its packaging strategy.
The trial is running from 1 April for six weeks in Tesco stores in Guildford, Surrey and Ilminster, Somerset.
Speaking to MRW head of energy, waste and recycling Alasdair James said: While we think were doing a good job we are actually conscious that we can do more.
After customers have come through the tills, if they feel that something they have bought has got excess packaging on it and they want to remove that and leave that in stores then they will be able to.
The retailer currently has 3,367 projects running with its suppliers of products to reduce packaging, ranging from food products to non-food products.
James explained that he took a visit to Germany to see how a similar packaging take-back system worked there. He said in Germany, they found that customers did not want the cartons around their toothpaste tubes and now they all just stand up on a cap in store. James said that the trial was an information gathering exercise that could influence its packaging reduction programme: It will either get us to look at products that we had overlooked that we can look at again or it will demonstrate where we can have a conversation with consumers and let them know why we cant do what they want us to or it will demonstrate that we have done a good job and show that the majority of customers dont see products as excessively packaged.
For example, if every customer was dumping their toothpaste cartons then you can go right OK we will look at that. But at the moment its a big job to do because there is regulatory information on the carton as well as the tube, so it is not an easy fix. But if every customer is frustrated by that then you can build a better programme with the Waste & Resources Action Programme, with Government and suppliers to find out what we can do as a whole.
James said that some customers are very environmentally aware and anti-packaging and some see it as absolutely critical. He used the example of a mother whose child may suffer from a nut allergy who would always want to know on the packaging whether nuts were contained in certain products.
He added: We have got to be very responsible in the way we do it. The trial we are doing will help us understand whether the tact we are trying to take is challenging enough but also responsible enough in the way we go about doing it.
We do not have any preconceived ideas of what the trial will throw up but until we have done that trial meticulously it will be much harder for me to say if we will roll it out.