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Woolworths overhauls delivery, packaging in supermarket wars move

Woolworths will debut a new zero-waste packaging initiative. Images: Getty, Woolworths

Woolworths customers will soon be able to return used ice cream containers, shampoo bottles and detergent bottles to the store where they will be cleaned and refilled, under a “cutting edge” plan announced on Tuesday.

Through the partnership with TerraCycle’s Loop packaging solution, customers will receive products in durable and brand-specific packaging in a reusable shipping tote. Customers will receive these after shopping in-store or online.

Once customers have finished the product, they place the packaging into the totes and have the choice of scheduling a home pickup or can drop it off at Woolworths. Loop will then clean the packaging so that it can be safely refilled and reused, meaning no new waste enters the system.

Here's how it works. Image: Woolworths

“Woolworths is the perfect partner to bring Loop to Australia, due to its operational scale and commitment to environmental sustainability,” Loop VP, global business development Anthony Rossi said.

“Together we will help eliminate the idea of waste and bring a better product experience to consumers.”

Loop has partnered with major brands and retailers including Unilever, PepsiCo, Procter & Gamble and Nestlé, and is one of the projects Woolworths and TerraCycle will put in place to cut plastic waste.

Loop was announced in January this year, before launching in May in New York and Paris.

“Our customers are increasingly telling us they want products that are good for them, and good for the planet,” Woolworths general manager of quality, health and sustainability, Alex Holt said

“We are pleased to be working with innovative partners like TerraCycle to lead the way in offering new and cutting-edge solutions to cut down on plastic waste.”

While the program won’t launch until mid-2021, interested customers can register their interest to be involved in a trial here, while Woolworths has also begun calling on suppliers to register interest.

Both Coles and Woolworths announced plans to ban the use of single-use plastic bags in mid-2018.

But the two major retailers have also come under fire for their collectibles campaigns, which saw masses of small plastic collectibles become waste.

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