First Look: Asda’s new sustainable store is focused on plastic reduction

Marianne Wilson
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Asda is testing a new type of store format designed to help shoppers reduce, reuse and recycle with a minimum of fuss.

The U.K. supermarket operator opened the store, which is located in Middleton, Leeds, in partnership with some of the country’s most popular household brands, including Kellogg’s, Vimto, Radox and Persil. The numerous initiatives being tested in the new location (see list below) will save one million pieces of plastic per year, according to Asda.

Asda, which is in the process of being sold by Walmart, plans to use the Middleton store to test and learn which of its features are most appealing to customers and can be developed at scale to be potentially rolled out to more locations in 2021. Also, to encourage customers to shop sustainably, the supermarket company has launched a “Greener at Asda Price,” a national price promise that loose and unwrapped products will not cost more than wrapped equivalents.

The new store includes the following features.
•    Fifteen huge refill stations where more than 30 household staples are sold in refillable format. The available products include different Kellogg’s cereals, PG Tips tea bags, Quaker Oats, Asda’s private brand rice and pasta and more.

•    The refill zone includes popular brands of shampoo, conditioner, laundry detergent, hand wash and shower gel from Unilever sold in refillable format – which Asda claimed as a retail first.

•    Fifty-three fresh produce lines are sold loose and unwrapped, including cauliflowers, mushrooms, apples, cabbages and baby plum tomatoes.  Also, all Asda plants and flowers are sold either unwrapped or with a paper wrapping.

•    Sustainable fashion lines from Asda private label clothing brand, George are showcased, including apparel made from recycled polyester and coat hanger-less denim.
•    The apparel offerings also include a partnership with Pre-Loved, a vintage wholesaler that will sell bespoke vintage clothing from well-known brands.

•    On-site recycling is available for items that are difficult to recycle in curbside collections, including biscuit packets, plastic toys, cosmetic containers and toothpaste tubes.

•    A new community zone has been created for pop-ups and partnerships with charities, with the first being a three-month trial with the Salvation Army of a “Drop and Shop” outlet where customers can donate their unwanted clothing and goods.

In addition, the store features Asda’s first reverse vending machine for cans, plastic and glass drinks bottles and a hanger recycling facility that will be rolled out across all stores.

The new store comes amid Asda’s commitment to generate zero carbon emissions and reduce waste by 50% by 2040. It has also committed to introduce over 40 refillable products by 2023 and invest in 50 closed-loop and circular projects by 2030, working closely with waste management companies, recyclers and product developers.