RETAIL giant Waitrose & Partners extended its packaging-free concept at a renovated store in Abingdon.

Shoppers can now choose from a wide selection of packaging-free products and enjoy new features which include a dry-aged beef cabinet, an updated bakery area and a cosy new cafe with more seating.

Following its success in the Botley Road supermarket where the 'Unpacked' concept was first launched, the store on Abbey Close is now the third Waitrose branch in Oxfordshire to introduce the scheme.

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As a result of increased concerns over excess single-use packaging, the retailer developed the 'Unpacked' initiative, which has also rolled out to its Wallingford branch.

The biggest change to the store is the dedicated refillable zone that includes 28 products like pasta, grains, cereals, dried fruit and seeds available to purchase through dispensers; frozen 'pick and mix' fruit counter and Ecover detergent and washing up liquid.

Another particularly attractive innovation is the wine and beer section where customers can top up the beverages in reusable bottles.

Earlier in November Waitrose announced 'phenomenal' sales of the refillable drinks and said it had sold ten weeks’ worth of beer in just four days in the Botley Road location.

As part of its overall commitment the retailer has pledged to reduce the amount of own-brand packaging, including plastics, by a third by 2023 and to ensure branded and own-brand packaging contains at least 30 percent recycled content by 2021.

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The company also commits to ban non-recyclable plastic from all its product by 2021.

It goes further to make smaller pledges including removing plastic toys from Christmas crackers and eliminating glitter from Waitrose cards, tags, wraps, crackers and flowers by 2020.

As most glitter is made out of plastic and it contributes to the global growing problem of microplastics in the environment, some campaigners are calling for a total ban on it.

Chris Andrews, branch manager at Waitrose & Partners Abingdon, said: “Our Oxfordshire customers will have a big say in how we take the Unpacked concept forward and how our customers across the UK might shop in the future.

"It's still early days in Wallingford, but Botley Road has been a huge success, so we're looking forward to seeing how shoppers in Abingdon now respond.”

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The supermarket chain first trialled ‘Unpacked’ back in June as an 11-week pilot scheme and after an overwhelming response the retailer announced in August that the scheme will be extended to three more stores in Oxford – Cheltenham, Wallingford, and Abingdon,

While 90 percent of customers at the Botley Road branch had a positive response to the scheme and said they would continue to shop 'unpacked', managers did cut two elements.

They removed the 'veg kitchen' where customers could ask a dedicated chef to turn their unpackaged groceries into meals, and the 'borrow-a-box' option as both proved unpopular.