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U.K. Retailers to Test Reusable Packaging

The United Kingdom's Waste and Resources Action Programme (WRAP) has unveiled a series of pilot programs designed to test reusable packaging for retail items.

The trials are intended to explore the commercial viability of the reusable packaging to determine the amount of materials needed for their use and the amount of waste generated. Several retail environments will be used, such as supermarkets and home improvement locations.

"This work could, when combined with growing consumer trends, spark a 'reusables revolution' in consumer packaging -- building on the growing recognition of the contribution reusable packaging can play in the supply chain," Mike Robey, WRAP's retail programme manager for home improvement, said in a statement.

U.K. supermarket chain Asda plans to begin testing refillable fabric softener packaging in September in a move that could one day lead the company to drop the price of the product. The pouches can be reused 10 times and could reduce packaging by some 90 percent, Packaging News reported. Automated machines that refill the pouches are now being installed in stores to test the system through February.

"There are benefits for the whole supply chain," Julian Walker-Palin, Asda's head of corporate policy for sustainability and ethics, told Packaging News. "Manufacturers don't have to pack bottles, more product can be fitted on to distribution trucks and consumers use less packaging."

Other test pilots include a project that will let Crown Paints customers return polypropylene paint containers to stories for cleaning and re-fill. Home improvement store B&Q will also try out reusable packaging for the delivery of "long" items, such as skirting boards or baseboards. The reusable packaging prototype can be used in more than 20 trips, preliminary results show.

The results of the reusable packaging tests will be made public through 2010.

Image CC-licensed by Flickr user comedy_nose.

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