Supermarkets urged to make refillable products more widely available

Josie Clarke, PA Consumer Affairs Correspondent
·2 min read

Supermarkets and manufacturers must do more to make refillable products widely available to increasingly keen shoppers, a consumer group has urged.

Shoppers were struggling to find environmentally friendly refills on supermarket shelves, and a lack of clear labelling meant many may be unaware they were available, Which? said.

A survey by the watchdog found 75% of consumers were open to buying refillable products but that only 36% had seen them on sale, while 29% said difficulty finding them was the main reason they had not bought any in the last year.

Which? research (Which?/PA)
Which? research (Which?/PA)

Nine out of 12 popular refillable personal care and home-cleaning products did not have labels indicating they could be refilled when they were finished.

Just four of them had packaging that could be fully recycled in most councils’ household collections, research indicated.

The refills for five products came in flexible pouches that are notoriously difficult to recycle, although the standard packaging versions, except the pumps, could be recycled.

Although difficult to recycle, flexible pouches are said to use less plastic and cut carbon emissions by taking up less space while being transported.

Which? found the 12 refill products analysed were almost always cheaper per millilitre compared to their originals.

Michael Briggs, head of sustainability at Which?, said: “Our research shows there is demand and savings to be had for consumers who switch to refills. However, many shoppers have trouble finding them on supermarket shelves and a lack of clear labelling means consumers may be unaware that a refillable option is available.

“Which? is calling on brands and supermarkets to make refillable products more widely available to customers. Recycling labels should also be provided on all grocery products so that people know how they can responsibly dispose of the items they use.”

Which? surveyed 2,008 UK adults in February.