Marks and Spencer announce it will be expanding the ‘Fill Your Own’ sustainability trial after increase of sales on refillable groceries.

M&S Food’s first Fill Your Own trial was launched in mid-December offering over 44 lines of packaging-free cupboard essentials including popular cereals, pasta, rice, lentils, confectionery, coffee, dried fruits and nuts.

After rolling out a sustainability trial in a Southampton store, M&S Food carried out some research which revealed that over 75% of consumers are consciously trying to reduce their use of plastic packaging.

The research findings highlight that the main barrier to shopping refill and unpackaged groceries is the challenge of finding retailers that offer this service (38%). This is followed by the need to carry containers – highlighted by one in five (18%) – and the perception that unpackaged seems more expensive than packaged alternatives (14%).

To encourage customers to adapt, M&S is providing free, widely recyclable paper bags for customers without containers to hand and colleagues are available to guide them on filling and weighing the products.

M&S say sales of reusable storage containers have already increased by 38% at the Hedge End store since the trial launched and by 10% across all M&S stores compared to last year.

Since the trial launched two months ago, 25 out of the 44 Fill Your Own products are selling higher volumes than the packaged alternatives, with customers buying over 2,600kg of product to date.

The bestselling products include M&S’s Triple Chocolate Crunch cereal, Whole Scottish Porridge Oats, Basmati Rice, Milk Chocolate Raisins, Single Origin Brazil Coffee and Fiorelli Pasta.

Paul Willgoss, Director of Food Technology at M&S, commented: “Our Fill Your Own concept is one area we’re focusing on as part of our action to reduce plastic packaging and support our customers to reuse and recycle. As a completely new way of shopping, we’re keen to better understand refill across the entire store process from behind the scenes operations to working together with our customers to encourage behaviour change.”

M&S say it will continue testing the refill concept at its Hedge End and Manchester City Centre stores before considering a wider roll-out plan across the UK.