A PILOT scheme to cut packaging use at Waitrose on Botley Road will be extended at that store and rolled out at three more branches.

The Unpacked test will now be launched at Waitrose in Abingdon and Wallingford in November, as well as Cheltenham in September.

The stores will get their own 'refillable zones' with dispensers for dried products, frozen pick-and-mix areas and coffee, wine and beer refills.

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They will also have refill stations where customers can bring their own containers to top up on eco-friendly detergent and washing-up liquid.

The pilot at Botley Road, which saw the store take almost all its fresh fruit and vegetables out of packaging and offer compostable bags, was originally due to run until August 18.

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However the company said it had such an 'overwhelmingly positive response' it was now confident the project would work elsewhere.

It also said it would extend the range of refillable products available at all stores following customer feedback, but had not finalised its plans yet.

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However the company revealed it would be cutting two elements of the pilot at the Botley Road store: a Veg Kitchen, where customers could ask a dedicated chef to turn their unpackaged groceries into meals, and a 'borrow-a-box' option.

Announcing the extension of the Unpacked scheme, Waitrose head of corporate social responsibility Tor Harris said: "The reaction to Waitrose Unpacked has been incredible with the invaluable feedback from thousands of customers giving us the confidence that they are prepared to change how they shop with us.

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"We are keen to take the Unpacked concept forward and these additional tests will help us achieve this as well as understand its commercial viability.

"Through working with our customers and suppliers we will continue to learn and develop ideas which have the potential to be rolled out more widely."

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The original Unpacked pilot on Botley Road saw more than 200 products taken out of their packaging with the aim of saving thousands of tonnes of unnecessary plastic.

As well as giving customers 160 loose fruit and vegetables, which Waitrose said was 'the most of any national supermarket', the scheme also included 'frozen pick and mix' mango, strawberries, blueberries, cherries, pineapple and raspberries, packaging-free.

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Managers said more than 7,000 customers gave feedback on the project, much of it applauding the aim of getting rid of plastic.

However as the project is rolled out to three new stores, Waitrose cautioned that the range of fresh fruit and vegetables available packaging-free would 'need to change to reflect the season and where the produce comes from'.