Upmarket UK retailer Waitrose & Partners has announced that the sales of refillable items offered in four of its outlets increased by almost 9% in the past six months.
Sales of refillable frozen fruit and vegetables increased by more than 50% in this period, detergent and washing-up liquid by 24%, and pulses, pasta and grains by almost 8%.
Since Waitrose Unpacked launched in summer 2019, the concept has helped save hundreds of tonnes of unnecessary plastic and packaging.
Partner and director of ethics and sustainability at Waitrose, Marija Rompani, said, "We are really beginning to find some momentum with customers demonstrating that this is how they might be prepared to shop with us in the future, and we are especially encouraged by the response to moving the concept in-aisle to make it more of the norm when visiting us.
"We know there is much more work to do, but the reaction of customers right now is giving us the confidence to continue moving forward with Unpacked."
In January of this year, Waitrose integrated unpacked items into its regular aisles within its shop in Wallingford, Oxfordshire.
The pilot aimed at exploring whether customers would shop 'unpacked' goods through incorporation into their usual shopping routine or by visiting a separate part of the shop.
Sales of refillables at the shop increased by more than 20% in the ten weeks of the test, the retailer added.
The retailer is now adding 13 new products to its refillable assortment and plans to expand it further later this year.
The continued expansion of the range underlines Waitrose's ambition to explore the potential to scale up the initiative.
The new additions, which have been selected following customer requests, will be available from this week, Waitrose said.
It will be cheaper than their packaged equivalent to encourage more people to opt for refillable items.
Some of the new products are five different varieties of loose tea, including Assam, Darjeeling, Earl Grey, English Breakfast tea, and Waitrose Gold tea.
Other items include dried apricots, dried fruit mix, raisins, sultanas and currants and popcorn, as well as frozen peas and frozen sweetcorn.