93% of UK consumers want more refill options when they shop

refill station

New research released for World Refill Day says 93% of shoppers would like to see more refill and reuse options available, but 34% make it clear that being able to use them would depend on their cost.

The research released by plastic pollution campaigning organisation, City to Sea, for World Refill Day, seems to highlight the untapped potential in the refill market across the retail sector, but consumers surveyed warned the cost-of-living crisis will influence their buying habits.

World Refill Day is a global campaign aiming to help people live with less waste. It’s designed to accelerate the transition away from single-use plastic and towards reuse systems and help the public find ways to refill and reuse on a budget.

65% have changed how they make purchasing decisions over the last six months as a result of the increase in household bills

City to Sea has also partnered with the environmental compliance scheme Ecosurety to launch a new city-wide reusable ‘returnable’ cup scheme.

The ‘Bristol Refill Cup Scheme’ aims to help tackle the increasing single-use coffee cup consumption. City to Sea says the scheme will enable retailers across the city to order and stock reusable cups at a low-cost subscription basis.

Customers who come in for a coffee will be given the option to have their coffee in a single-use cup or a reusable cup – with the environmental benefits communicated to them.

Using the Refill app, retailers will scan a QR code on the cup which will transfer the ownership of the cup to the customer. The customer will use the app to manage the cup and will be reminded when and where to return the cup.

When the cup is returned to participating retailers, it will be scanned back in, washed, and reused.

CEO of Ecosurety, Will Ghali, said: “This initiative is a fantastic opportunity to accelerate a shift in consumer behaviour by making it easy for people to use refillable cups when they are on the go.

“Alongside the introduction of mandatory take back of disposable cups by 2024, we believe that reusable cup schemes have an important role to play in reducing disposable packaging waste at point of sale and helping people to reduce their carbon footprint and the amount of packaging they use.”

City to Sea says the cost-of-living crisis is forcing consumers to ‘change priorities’, with half of Britons reporting they are doing less to reduce single-use plastic than they were six months ago as a direct result of the increase in household bills.

66% don’t think supermarkets & brands are doing enough to provide affordable reusable/refillable or packaging-free options to customers.

City to Sea’s new research also showed that consumers are unaware of potential savings to be made when shopping plastic free, with 40% believing that zero-waste or plastic-free options are always more expensive.

Founder of City to Sea, Natalie Fee, said: “Customers are rightly upset at having to choose between cost to their wallets and cost to the planet. We know that the public still care about plastic pollution and want to do more but retailers and brands just aren’t making it accessible or affordable for us.

“We need big brands, businesses and retailers to take action to prevent plastic pollution by reducing single-use packaging and investing in reuse and refill systems. And we need governments around the world to hold them to account.”

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