We need to radically transform our relationship with single-use plastic packaging and a key part of this will be the move to reuse and refill for many everyday items we purchase.

Our latest report and research explores citizen behaviours around reuse and refill. In partnership with Asda and Unilever, we shadowed research participants across the whole of their shopping journey. From pre-shop preparation to instore experience, we evaluated how our trial participants interacted with refill zones and developed and tested a series of instore behaviour change interventions. All designed to improve the reuse and refill shopping experience for our participants.

We used a two-phase semi-ethnographic qualitative approach to the research. The methodology included conducting two field-based investigations into citizen behaviours, desk-based research to review existing evidence from 46 sources including WRAP’s inaugural Plastics Tracker and The UK Plastics Pact Members, and developing instore interventions grounded in behavioural change theory. 

Three key strategies

From this research we concluded that there are three strategies that retailers can apply instore to help shoppers try reuse and refill - and keep them coming back.   

1. Make pricing clear 

Participants told us they wanted to see clear communication of price differences between packaged and refill products to help them make purchasing decisions. After better understanding value differences, participants realised they could save money and felt motivated to try reuse and refill.

2. Help people overcome uncertainty and apprehension 

We uncovered that well-located and easy to understand step-by-step guidance on how to use the equipment helped reassure participants trying out reuse and refill for the first time. Providing clear and noticeable advertising and signage that stands out helped raise awareness and guided participants to the refill zone. They told us that signage that was different from the retailer's normal branded Point of Sale helped make it more noticeable. Having staff on hand to help also eased any uncertainty when entering the refill zone for the first time.

3. Make the experience fun and enjoyable

Promotional brand activities with a staff presence were successful in creating an enjoyable experience and exciting atmosphere at the refill zone which drew shoppers in. Having people around made the zone feel more approachable and provided reassurance that it is being used by others. This also helped normalise the zone, making it more attractive to shoppers.

WATCH: The research findings and discussion with Asda and Unilever


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