M&S to expand popular homecare refill scheme to 25 stores

Marks & Spencer (M&S) is adding its range of homecare products in refillable and reusable packaging to 19 additional stores across the UK, following successful trials at six locations.

M&S to expand popular homecare refill scheme to 25 stores

Image: M&S

The supermarket’s ‘Refilled’ scheme provides customers with a choice of 10 own-brand homecare products in reusable packaging, including cleaning sprays, laundry products and washing-up liquid.

Stores with ‘Refilled’ products also include a return point for used packaging. Shoppers pay a £2 deposit for the returnable bottle with their first purchase, and receive this value back in the form of a voucher when returning packaging.

Collected packaging is sent off-site for cleaning and reuse. M&S is collaborating with Reposit, Ecover and City to Sea on the system, which has been described as “scalable and standardized”.

During the ‘Refilled’ trials at six stores last year, more than 10,000 customers chose one or more products in pre-filled packaging, with the washing-up liquid proving to be the most popular choice.

M&S estimates that the expansion of the offering will mitigate the use of 150,000 pieces of single-use plastic packaging. The retailer is notably working to eliminate a billion units of single-use plastic packaging by 2027.

M&S Food’s head of sustainability Lucinda Laughton said: “We know our customers care deeply about us reducing plastic packaging and are continuing to look for ways they can make small changes in their everyday lives. Our Refilled scheme has proven hugely popular – showing there is high demand for refillable and great value options – so we’re delighted to be able to introduce this into even more of our stores across the UK this month.”

The M&S locations set to receive ‘Refilled’ products and take-back points are Camberley, Cheshunt, Falkirk Central, Hackney, Hedge End, Hempstead Valley, Kingsley Village, Leamington, Liverpool One, Meadowhall, Mosely, Oatlands Harrogate, Purley Way, Silverburn Glasgow, Silverlink Newcastle, Stockport, Tolworth, Wolstanton Stoke and York.

Stores in Aintree, Bluewater, London Colney, London Stratford, Stevenage and Vangarde already offer ‘Refilled’.

State of play

Recent research from the Ellen MacArthur Foundation revealed that exponentially scaling reusable packaging options for consumer goods could reduce the water and emissions footprint of packaging by up to 70% and also cut material use by 75%.

At present, just 2% of the products sold by the largest brands in these product categories are housed in refillable packaging.

The Foundation has stated that scaling this proportion to 40% would be “one of the biggest opportunities to reduce plastic pollution” through to 2040, mitigating up to one-fifth of the flows of plastics into oceans.

Getting to this point, the study found, would require a concerted effort to change packaging systems, involving policymakers and businesses at all parts of the packaging value chain.

Brands and retailers have, to date, found making lasting change beyond limited refill and reuse pilots challenging. The proportion of plastic packaging that is reusable has remained broadly flat in recent years.

This trend may be about to change, with supermarkets finding it easier to expand trials post-lockdown and with the practice setting of quantitative reusability targets gathering pace with pioneers including PepsiCo and The Coca-Cola Company.

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