Asda launches new sustainability store and strategy

Nick Gladding
Senior Retail Analyst

Date : 20 October 2020

Asda has today opened a flagship sustainability trial store together with a new plastics reduction strategy that includes a pledge that customers will not pay more for greener options. The store at Middleton, Leeds, was due to open earlier this year but was delayed by the Covid crisis. It will function a Test and learn facility or sustainability, similar to its Stevenage technology store where new technologies are being trialled and evaluated.

Suppliers partnerships underpin project

The aim of Middleton is to help shoppers reduce recycle and reuse packaging. Key to achieving this will be partnerships with some of the UK's leading brand owners. Collectively Asda estimates the initiatives being trialled should reduce plastics consumption by one million pieces of plastics per year. Asda also plans to a few other sustainability stores around the UK but the real wins will comes from rolling out successful elements of the store to other locations in 2021.

Key features of Asda Middleton

The new store includes the following:

  • 15 huge refill stations offering customers a selection of more than 30 household staples sold in refillable format. Products include a selection of different Kellogg’s cereals, PG Tips tea bags, Quaker Oats, Lavazza and Taylors of Harrogate coffee beans, Vimto cordial and Asda’s own brand rice and pasta.  The refill zone includes popular brands of shampoo, conditioner, Persil laundry detergent, hand wash and shower gel from Unilever brands such as Simple and Radox sold in refillable format – a retail first
  • 53 fresh produce lines sold in loose and unwrapped format. These include 29 new lines such as cauliflowers, mushrooms, apples, cabbages and baby plum tomatoes. In addition, all Asda plants and flowers are sold either unwrapped or with a paper wrapping.
  • Removal of the outer plastic wrapping on several popular Heinz and Asda Brand canned multipacks including beans and soups
  • Recycling facilities for difficult-to-recycle items such as crisp and biscuit packets, plastic toys, cosmetic containers and toothpaste tubes
  • Asda’s first reverse vending machine for cans, plastic and glass drinks bottles and a hanger recycling facility that will be rolled out across all stores. The store will also showcase sustainable fashion lines through George including clothing made from recycled polyester and coat hanger-less denim
  • A new community zone for pop ups and partnerships with charities; the first is a three-month trial with the Salvation Army of a Drop and Shop outlet for customers to donate their unwanted clothing and bric-a-brac seven days a week
  • A partnership with Pre-Loved a vintage wholesaler who will be selling bespoke vintage clothing from well-known brands

New sustainability strategy

Asda is supporting the store opening with the launch of a new sustainability strategy. Key elements of this include:

  • "Greener at Asda Price" - a national price promise that loose and unwrapped products will cost no more than wrapped equivalents
  • A target of Zero carbon emissions by 2040
  • An ambition to reduce waste by 50% and have a net regenerative impact on nature no later than 2050
  • Commitment to reduce 3bn piece of plastic from own brand lines by 2021, building on a 15% weight based reduction target for 2018-2021
  • 40 refillable products to be introduced by 2023
  • Investments in 50 closed loop and circular projects by 2030, working closely with waste management companies, recyclers and product developers

Supplier support and customer response will be key to strategy

Commenting on developments, Roger Burnley, Asda’s CEO and President said: “Today marks an important milestone in our journey as we tackle plastic pollution and help our customers to reduce, re-use and recycle. We have always known that we couldn’t go on this journey alone, so it is fantastic to work in tandem with more than twenty of our partners and suppliers, who have answered the call to test innovative sustainable solutions with us.
“This is an issue that matters greatly to our customers – our own insight tells us that more than 80% believe that supermarkets have a responsibility to reduce the amount of single use plastics in stores. We want to give them the opportunity to live more sustainably by offering them great product choices and value, underpinned by a promise that they won’t pay more for greener options at Asda.
“During the next few months we will listen to customers and colleagues’ feedback on Middleton so we can understand how we can continue to reduce our environmental impacts, whilst continuing to deliver quality service at a great price.”


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