Unilever has partnered with Co-op to launch two refill packaging store trials, with the aim of gaining a deeper understanding of consumer behaviour towards refillable and reusable packaging in a convenience environment.

The UK-based trial will test two refill models: ‘Refill on the go’ and ‘Return on the go’, with some of Unilever’s best-known brands: Persil; Simple; Radox and Alberto Balsam being available in reusable stainless-steel bottles.

Unilever’s ‘return on the go’ scheme allows customers to pick up pre-filled stainless-steel bottles and return them in-store once used, while the ‘refill on the go’ approach - trialled in a larger Co-op store - allows customers to purchase and refill re-useable stainless-steel bottles using a standalone refill machine in-store.

Co-op’s head of format development, Ian McCutcheon, said: “We are continually working to develop new ways to provide added services and choice conveniently. The refillable packaging trials with Unilever are designed to test and learn from consumer behaviour, while providing easy and quick ways for shoppers to cut their plastic consumption.

“We are heading into a climate and environmental crisis, and we need to act now to support consumers in making ethical purchasing decisions - by making it easier for shoppers to make small changes to their lives, together, we can make a big difference to our environment.”

On the expansion of their refill trials, Unilever UK & Ireland general manager and executive vice-president, Sebastian Munden, added: “Our trials with Co-op include our first test of refillable products in a smaller convenience store setting, helping us to further build our understanding of how refills work in different store sizes, locations and shopping missions.

“There’s no ‘one-size-fits-all’ for reuse and refill. Offering a range of our trusted brands and products in refillable stainless steels bottles, we continue to test different models, store formats and locations across the UK to see how shoppers respond, what works best, and what we need to adapt and change. Working closely with partners like Co-op, we can help people to make more sustainable choices every day and reduce the single use of virgin plastic with the speed and urgency needed.”

Earlier this year, Co-op launched an in-store soft plastic recycling scheme for packaging that is unlikely to be collected by local councils via kerbside collection.