Food brands sign up to refill pilot

High street brands including Leon and Costa have signed up to a new pilot which will highlight outlets where customers can purchase food and drink in reusable containers.

The pilot marks the expansion of the Refill campaign whose app provides the location of over 30,000 independent businesses, transport hubs and retailers across the UK where people can fill up their reusable water bottle for free.

From November, a 3-month trial in Oxford and Bristol will allow people that download the free Refill app to find locations where they can also fill up their coffee cup, lunch-box, groceries, cleaning products and toiletries, as well as highlighting outlets that offer a discount as a reward.

Neal’s Yard Remedies, Pret, Morrisons, Asda and Waitrose are among the other businesses to support the pilot as part of efforts to cut the pollution caused by single-use packaging. They are joined by 70 independent businesses including River Cottage Canteen and Better Food Co in Bristol, and Jericho Coffee Traders and Organic Deli Café in Oxford.

Morrisons customers can bring their own containers to its meat, fish and bakery counters and use reusable bags for loose fruit and veg on selected lines.

Leon, meanwhile, will become the first Refill chain to allow customers to use their own container for certain food menu items, whilst continuing to offer a 45p discount on hot drinks for customers with a reusable cup.

“We know our guests want the opportunity to make more sustainable choices – we’ve seen a 300% uptake since we launched our reusable coffee cup discount over 18 months ago – and trialling refillable containers is the next step in reducing the amount of single-use material across Leon,” said Rebecca Di Mambro, head of marketing for Leon.

Refill is led by campaign group City to Sea which launched the project back in 2015 as part of its aim to stop plastic pollution at source.

It said that by offering reusable or refillable options brands can not only save money on packaging and waste management costs, but also gain consumer trust and satisfaction. It cited research showing that 85% of people would view businesses that offered refills for food and drink a lot more positively with almost three-quarters of Brits saying they are willing to use food refill services in order to cut down on waste and improve food sustainability for the environment.

City to Sea is encouraging other businesses in the food-to-go or retail sector to participate in the pilot including those that already allow customers to bring their own containers for hot drinks, food and household products, and those wanting to trial a refill service for the first time.

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