Oxford Waitrose Unpacked campaign: Shoppers give verdict

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Containers outside Waitrose
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Customers of Waitrose in Oxford can fill their own tubs with groceries - if they remember to bring them

A Waitrose store in Oxford is on the second day of an 11-week trial in which customers can fill their own containers with groceries, including lentils, pasta and rice, as well as beer and wine. But what do the customers make of it?

Elise Engim, 20, came straight to the store in Botley armed with containers after seeing BBC coverage of Waitrose's Unpacked campaign.

"They should continue it past the 11 weeks because everyone loves it and is really into it," she said.

"Oxford is very eco-conscious and I think Waitrose have acknowledged that, and I think it's a good step forward in the right direction, especially with what's going on with Extinction Rebellion and all these new movements.

"I think this is particularly focussed on the youth generation and we're a lot more conscious about it. My friends are all ecstatic that it's going in this direction."

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Elise Engim says the younger generation is helping to change attitudes about plastic
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Cartons line shelves previously stacked with plastic boxes

Declan Smith, 44, said his teenage daughter had been pushing him to be more mindful of how much plastic he used, "so fair play to the younger generation".

Seeing the displays, he impulsively bought wine in a refillable bottle for his sister.

He said: "I came to get my lunch and I happened to see the new facility so I thought I'd try it.

"I'm going to have a wander and see what else is available.

"People have realised at last how much waste we produce so it's overdue but I'm still glad they've done it."

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Declan Smith was inspired to buy wine in a refillable bottle as a present

Rosemary Spivey was also surprised by the new displays, and picked up some leaflets to remind her to bring containers next time.

"I thought 'about time', quite frankly," she said.

"I've always tried to recycle things for ages, and I've always got annoyed that everything is wrapped up in plastic.

"One of the reasons I bought a cucumber today was because it actually wasn't wrapped up in plastic.

"Stores have got to take it on the chin and do this sort of thing. It's not just the stores, it's the manufacturers, too.

"We didn't used to have all these packages. It's going to be a huge task for industry but they have got to do it because otherwise we're going to be in trouble."

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Rosemary Spivey picked up the leaflets to prepare for her next shopping trip
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The refill station has an array of typical household consumables

Michael Lockett, 69, from Kingston Bagpuize, always planned to buy baby plum tomatoes on this shopping trawl, and was pleasantly surprised to find them in "old-fashioned" cardboard cartons.

"I remember growing up, my mother went with a proper shopping bag and reused it all the time," he said.

"I don't go out of my way to avoid plastic because it's too much of a hassle, because it's everywhere, but I do hate the stores where you need a degree in opening a safe to get into the packaging.

"But next time I will bring my own Tupperware. I won't be trying the wine, though, as I stopped drinking after New Year."

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The cardboard packaging reminds Michael Lockett of the "old days"

Amanda, originally from Colorado in the United States, stocked up on recyclable bags to be better prepared for her next visit.

"I love the idea of using these bags instead of plastic ones," she said.

"It makes you look at the plastic that is out elsewhere in the store and makes you aware of how much plastic you're buying.

"I know this is a test so I hope it goes well because this is really great.

"It reminds me of old market stores back in the day so if we can go back to that it would be really good."

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Beer is on tap at Waitrose now
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Laura Madden and her children came to the store to fill tubs with cereal

Laura Madden, joined by her children Darcy and Finley, brought a container from home to fill with cereal.

"I saw it on the news. I live local so I jumped in the car," she said.

"I'll always be filling my cereal in a tub if I can. It's the way forward. We should see it more in other supermarkets.

"I'm all for sustainability so I'm just here to support the trialling and hope it goes well."

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Frozen food pick-and-mix is now a thing

Tor Harris, head of corporate social responsibility at the store, said the findings of the trial would be vital in deciding how Waitrose eliminated all unnecessary plastic.

She said changing some of its processes to make it a reality was difficult "so it's fantastic to see it come to fruition and to see the positive response we've had so far".

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