Central England Co-operative is trialling a new concept that allows customers to fill their own containers with food.

The retailer has teamed up with Suma Wholefoods to create its first-ever zero waste refill station as part of the launch of its £3 million flagship concept store in Lichfield, Staffordshire.

Customers will be able to use the new feature for a range of products including oats, porridge, rice and dried fruit as part of its long-term efforts to cut down on plastic packaging and waste.

If successful, the concept could be rolled out across more of its 262 stores nationwide.

Hannah Gallimore, corporate responsibility manager at Central England Co-op, said:

“As a responsible business, we are committed to minimising our impact on the environment and doing so in new and innovative ways.

We are delighted to have launched our first-ever zero waste refill station as we know that it will be something that will appeal to our customers and members.

“Feedback has been great so far and we cannot wait to hear more of what people think in the coming weeks and months.”

‘Zero waste is a big trend’

Johnny Spencer, national account manager at Suma, worked closely with Central England Co-op ahead of the launch of the zero waste refill station trial.

He said:

Zero waste is a big trend for many retailers at the moment. More and more customers are looking to cut unnecessary plastic out of their shopping, and retailers themselves want greener stores and supply chains.

“At Suma we’ve seen a growing number of dedicated zero stores open over the last few years, and now we’re starting to see really forward-thinking retailers like Central England Co-operative incorporate refill stations into convenience stores.

Central England Co-op have set the bar high with their large, well-designed and well-stocked station. We’ve worked closely together to get the offer right, and I think we’re all pleased with such a fantastic outcome.

“We’ll be watching how it develops, as I’m sure many other retailers will too. There’s no doubt that Central England Co-op are at the start of a trend that will only grow.”

This latest trial is one of several being rolled out by Central England Co-op as part of an effort to offer customers an improved shopping experience.

Other trials include people being able to scan and go in stores and two eco-friendly home delivery options powered by mobile apps.