Unilever leads sustainability drive with Europe’s ‘largest’ refill trial at Asda

The trial will see seven Unilever brands, including three beauty companies, offer refillable options for their products

The supplier of Ren and Dermalogica, Unilever, has advanced its sustainability efforts by launching Europe’s ‘largest’ in-store refill trial.

Asda’s relaunched sustainability store in Leeds has been selected for the trial and will provide three refill formats across seven Unilever brands at the shop’s Refill Zone.

Eco-conscious beauty shoppers can now refill their Radox shower gel, Simple liquid hand wash and Alberto Balsam shampoo and conditioner at in-store filling station, powered by Beauty Kitchen’s technology.

First-time shoppers will be provided with a reusable aluminium bottle, while returning shoppers can use their existing bottle.

Once filled, shoppers add their printed label to the bottle and take it to the checkout as usual.

Shoppers can also refill their Persil laundry liquid via the station.

Unilever’s tea brands PG Tips and Pukka will be available at self-serve counters in a loose form and Cif is offering an in-home refill experience.

As part of the trial, Unilever has administered each product with a QR code to track the process and gain a better insight into consumer habits.

“It’s a great opportunity for us to find out, across seven of our leading brands, just how shoppers respond to using refillable and reusable packaging in store,” said Unilever’s Executive VP Sebastian Munden.

“We are all committed to driving lasting change when it comes to plastic, but to do so we must create scalable solutions and make it as easy as possible for people to make sustainable choices.”

Unilever has committed to halving its use of virgin plastic and ensuring all its plastic packaging is fully reusable, recyclable or compostable by 2025.

Meanwhile, speaking to Cosmetics Business, Jo Chidley, founder of Beauty Kitchen, said she was not concerned that reduced footfall due to the coronavirus pandemic would stop consumers doing their bit to help the environment.

"People are ready for change and the launch of the refill stations this week has proved that with huge engagement from all ages," she noted.

"We receive more and more interest in our Return, Refill, Repeat programme daily as it is such a unique way of functioning.

"It opens a whole new world for customers who are new to sustainability and who want to make a change. The refill process is just as hygienic as buying a new product, without the added waste that would have occurred if you were to repeatedly dispose of a new product packaging again and again."

The launch follows L’Oréal-owned brand Maybelline’s scheme to recycle empty make-up products from any brand at 1,000 UK locations last month.

Empties can be deposited at the brand’s recycling bins within Tesco, Superdrug, Boots and Sainsbury’s stores nationwide.

Meanwhile, in the same month, Boots introduced its recycling scheme encouraging customers to bring back their ‘hard to recycle’ products, such as toothpaste tubes and mascaras.

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