After a successful trial in a single Sydney store, Woolworths is to allow shoppers in Tasmania to bring their own reusable containers to fill up at deli, meat and seafood counters.
One store in Queensland – the new West End supermarket – will serve as a further test, and the company said it plans to expand the trials into further stores in NSW and Victoria early next year.
The initiative is aimed at reducing the use of disposable plastic containers and wrapping, helping shoppers to shop more sustainably.
Woolworths Group Chief Sustainability Officer, Alex Holt said customers had been asking Woolworths to allow them to bring their own containers to the deli.
“Across the community, we’re increasingly adding reusable packaging to our regular routines – whether it be reusable cups for our morning coffee or bringing our own bags to the supermarket.
“We hope our new BYO container program will be no different, and that together with our customers we can help reduce the amount of single-use plastic in their grocery shop,” said Holt.
“The potential impact of a small change like this is huge. If every customer brought their own deli container, an average store could save up to 10,000 plastic containers a year.”
Testing the concept at Woolworths Crows Nest on Sydney’s North Shore, has helped the retailer establish rules for the refill program. For food and operational safety reasons, containers brought by customers must be clean and in good condition, and have a sealable lid. Glass or single-use containers are not allowed.
Refillable containers can be used for all products sold by weight at the deli, meat and seafood counters, but for now, salads sold by volume are excluded.
Staff at the stores will adjust the scales to account for the weight of the container being filled and a barcode sticker is provided for scanning at checkout.
BYO containers are part of a broader plan by Woolworths to reduce plastic across its operations. Since 2018, the company has improved the packaging on more than 550 of its own brand and fresh products, removing thousands of tonnes of plastic from circulation through items like milk bottles, meat trays, produce packaging and bakery containers.
It has committed to making 100 per cent of its own-brand packaging recyclable, compostable or reusable by the end of 2023.