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Pack it yourself – refill when you buy

February 16th, 2010 by Devangshu Dutta

According to The Daily Telegraph, Asda has devised a system for customers to “buy fabric conditioner from a vending machine which pumps the liquid from a large vat in the stockroom directly into a pouch”. The project aims to cut packaging costs and help reduce prices for consumers. The scheme is partially funded by the UK government’s anti-landfill agency Wrap.

A lot of debate was generated on retailwire.com (“Do it yourself all over again”). A number of people who were underwhelmed by the whole concept and questioned the value, including labelling the initiative “anecdotal” and “one-off” with “limited appeal”.

I feel somewhat differently. A journey of a thousand miles begins with a step. A plastic-free landscape begins with a refill. I understand the cynicism expressed, but don’t want to give in to it.

Yes, changing habits is difficult. But, hard as it is to believe, there was a time when families didn’t have kilos of daily garbage. Consumer goods companies, retailers, marketers changed that. And they achieved the change through sustained and dedicated effort over a several decades, until waste became the “cheapest” and easiest choice.

I think it’s time to reverse the thrust on that flywheel.

(Click here to read the Telegraph article.)

Posted in Corporate Social Responsibility, Food & Grocery, Retail, Strategy, Supply Chain, Uncategorized | No Comments »

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