Welbeck is unpacking a greener plan to reduce waste

Unpackaged founder Catherine Conway (right) with staff from the Welbeck Farm Shop where the system has been introduced. Photo: Steve Houghton
Unpackaged founder Catherine Conway (right) with staff from the Welbeck Farm Shop where the system has been introduced. Photo: Steve Houghton

Welbeck Farm Shop has proved itself a pioneering business again by becoming the first farm shop in the country to introduce a zero-waste packaging system.

The shop, based on the Welbeck estate between Nottingham and Sheffield, has teamed up with London business Unpackaged to install a system where customers can fill up their own containers and weigh out exactly what they want before taking their goods to the tills.

According to Oliver Stubbins, the shop manager, the key difference for customers using the Unpackaged system is that offering refills is different to ‘bulk’ shopping, which does not deal with the issue of packaging waste.

The weight of any container is automatically deducted from the overall weight of the goods bought and the system is self-service, easy to use, and complies with all legislation on weights, measures and labelling.

Oliver said: “As a responsible retailer, we are always looking at ways in which we can reduce both food waste and packaging waste and the Unpackaged concept is a great fit for our farm shop.

“We have always carefully sourced our produce in terms of quality and reduced packaging is now also at the forefront of our decision making because it’s something both our customers and our staff are very keen on,

“Unpackaged offers a series of refillable dispensers for shoppers looking to reduce the amount of packaging they use.

“The scheme has been inspired by a more traditional way of shopping, where goods are measured and weighed and do not come in hard-to-recycle plastic packaging.”

Catherine Conway, founder of Unpackaged, commented: “Independent retailers have a huge opportunity to beat the big supermarkets to reducing waste – and shopping ‘by refill’ ensures repeat business.”

Welbeck Farm Shop is found at the heart of a vibrant artisan food community.

Two-thirds of the shop’s product range is sourced from, or prepared at, the historic Welbeck estate.

Open seven days a week it stocks the estate’s own meat, game and raw milk, (also used to make ‘Stichelton’ blue cheese), ale from Welbeck Abbey Brewery, bread and patisserie from Welbeck Bakehouse and chocolate from Welbeck Farm Shop’s resident chocolatier Shelly Preston.

Last month, Welbeck won the prestigious Small Farm Shop of the Year Award in the national Farm Shop and Deli Awards.

The award was made after a public vote followed by judging from an independent panel of food industry experts.