Asda has axed its store trials of refillable product stations, where shoppers filled their own containers with food to cut down on plastic use.

The supermarket said it had scrapped the trials because the concept was “too challenging”.

Asda had teamed up with leading manufacturers in trials at four of its UK stores, as part of a sustainability initiative to reduce plastic packaging. Customers at the stores could use refill stations to fill containers of Asda’s own brand rice and pasta, as well as Kellogg’s cereals and PG Tips.

But Asda said it had experienced both “operational issues and commercial challenges” with its approach to refillables.

It said: “Our research showed that the key barriers which included cost, convenience, cleanliness, and perceived product quality have prevented customers from engaging with the refill proposition.”

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While work to improve communication around its refillable offer – including geotargeted social media ads, in-store signage and updated digital assets – did increase awareness, “the affordability of refill, customer uptake remained low”.

It added: “Refill, in its current format, remains too challenging for our business to scale and operate. As with any trial, we need to adapt and evolve. Therefore, we are exiting the refill trials in our four existing stores.

“Moving forwards, we intend to deliver new, scalable refill and prefill trials that build on our learnings and improve customer uptake, operational feasibility and commercial viability.”

Asda’s first plastic-free pilot store launched in Leeds in 2020. Two years ago it introduced a ‘refill price promise’ to ensure refill products would be cheaper than their packaged counterparts.

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