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Zero waste retailer and solution provider Unpackaged has launched at Welbeck Farm Shop what it says is a unique retail system, which it is rolling out across the UK.

Catherine Conway (pictured), founder of Unpackaged – which sets up refill systems for clients and provides bespoke consultancy services, designing and implementing sustainable shopping solutions – has developed a retail offer specifically for farm shops and independent delis and retailers.

Unpackaged At…  has been implemented at sustainable shopping pioneer Welbeck Farm Shop in Nottinghamshire this week and offers a series of refillable dispensers for shoppers keen to keep their footprint low.  The scheme has been inspired by a more traditional way of shopping, where goods are measured and weighed, thus avoiding hard-to-recycle plastic packaging.

On offer is an array of cereals, pulses, pastas, rice, nuts, seeds, dried fruit, chocolate and various other raw foodstuffs.  The Unpackaged At…  section is bright, well sign-posted and easy to use, says the firm, with customers able to fill up their own containers and weigh produce themselves before taking it to the tills to pay.

Conway stresses that offering refills is different to ‘bulk’ shopping, which can be found around London and the UK but which doesn’t deal with the issue of packaging waste. “With bulk, the customer is offered alternative packaging – often more plastic bags, whereas refill shopping is all about enabling customers to bring their own containers. To do this, we give them the ability to ‘tare’ and deduct the weight of any container they bring from the overall weight of the goods they are buying, so it’s self-service, easy to use, and complies with all legislation on weights, measures and labelling.”

More and more people in towns, villages and rural areas are committed to supporting these kinds of shops and it’s a huge achievement for Unpackaged At… to be here.  Independent retailers have a huge opportunity to beat the big supermarkets to reducing waste – and shopping ‘by refill’ ensures repeat business

The concept was launched earlier this year into Planet Organic shops across London. “Moving into farm shops and delis is huge jump for me,” says Conway. “More and more people in towns, villages and rural areas are committed to supporting these kinds of shops and it’s a huge achievement for Unpackaged At… to be here. Independent retailers have a huge opportunity to beat the big supermarkets to reducing waste – and shopping ‘by refill’ ensures repeat business. Without getting sentimental, the ‘old’ way of shopping was much, much kinder to our environment. Supply chain was a simpler affair, and bulk offerings allowed shoppers to choose how much they wanted, thus cutting down on packaging and food waste. I’m incredibly proud today. It’s a massive step in the long journey towards a truly zero waste weekly shop.”

Retailers who sign up to Unpackaged at… will get everything they need to set up a refill section within their existing store, and Unpackaged says it will support them every step of the way to make it a success. Retailers will receive an easy to install unit holding ten gravity and 15 scoop bins – giving them the space to sell 25 products from a compact 1mx2m footprint. Unpackaged’s partner Bizerba provides a high-spec weighing scale that allows customers to tare, or zero, their own containers themselves, reducing any operational burden on staff. Additionally, Unpackaged has partnered with Grenke to offer a finance package for retailers, enabling them to pay a quarterly rental for their Unpackaged unit, helping to get them up and running quickly without an initial big investment, and manage cash flow.

Retailers who are interested, can find out more at www.beunpackaged.com.

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About the Author

Jane Wolfe

Deputy Editor
Natural Products News deputy editor Jane Wolfe re-joined NPN in 2013 having previously worked for the magazine as a sub and freelance journalist from its Steyning beginnings.

Articles by Jane Wolfe
Jane Wolfe
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