According to M&S, the Refillable trial will allow customers to choose from eight pre-filled, own-brand homecare products, including cleaning sprays, laundry detergents, fabric conditioners, and washing up liquids.
The trial will be launched initially in M&S’ recently-opened Stevenage store and in Bluewater, before being extended to an additional four stores – Stratford City, Hedge End, Aintree, and York Vangarde Retail Park – over the course of Summer 2022.
M&S is launching the trial in partnership with Re, founded by Jo-Anna Chidley, which was recently awarded Innovate UK funding as part of the Smart Sustainable Plastic Packaging Challenge. Customers will need to pay an initial £2 deposit for the reusable bottle, with 500ml, 750ml and 1L sizes on offer.
After use, customers can return the bottle to the participating M&S stores and receive a £2 voucher, which is redeemable against a second purchase from the M&S Refillable range. According to the companies, all returned bottles are cleaned and refilled before being returned to stores to be sold again.
The companies add that cleaning spray and washing-up liquid bottles will include a fully recyclable spray trigger or pump that can be recycled at home or returned to M&S stores.
M&S claims that customers are already responding well to the trial, with the most popular product, its own-brand citrus washing up liquid, reportedly almost equalling the sales of its packaged equivalent.
Lucinda Langton, head of sustainability at M&S Food, comments: “At M&S, we want to help our customers live more sustainably by transforming how we sell our products. We know they care deeply about reducing plastic so we’re taking a test and learn approach to find innovative solutions.
“Our homecare trial builds on our refillable and packaging-free Fill Your Own concept, and both are important parts of our strategy to reduce plastic and packaging.
“Fill Your Own has already been hugely popular – showing there is high demand for refillable great value options – and if customers love M&S Refillable just as much, we’ll be rolling it out to more stores.”
M&S first launched its Fill Your Own packaging-free concept in December 2019. It is currently available in fourteen stores, with customers offered a choice of over 60 refillable grocery products like pasta, rice, cereal, and nuts, apparently at a better value per gram compared to packaged alternatives.
The retailer has committed to removing 1 billion units of plastic food packaging by 2027. The Fill Your Own concept has allegedly saved 350,00 units of single-use packaging so far.
M&S says it will look to expand the new Refillable range to other stores if the trial is successful. Notably, the retailer does not state what criteria it will use to measure the success of the trial, and it has yet to fully scale its Fill Your Own Concept. This suggests that the solutions may not become available across all M&S stores in their current form soon, if at all.