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Oxford Crowned the Refill Capital of the UK

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A recent study conducted by Lifestyle Packaging has revealed that Oxford has been named the refill capital of the UK, earning a score of 7.1 out of 10. The study assessed the volume of refilling stations and independent zero-waste shops in each city, as well as the average monthly refill-related Google searches, and then calculated a score based on the data per capita.

Oxford Takes the Top Spot

Oxford emerged as the leader in refillable packaging facilities, boasting the third highest number of water refill stations in the UK, with 244 locations (152 per capita). The city also ranked in the top five for lunch refill locations, with 23 establishments available (14.37 per capita). Additionally, Oxford ranked ninth for its coffee refill options, with 94 locations (59 per capita). However, there are currently no zero-waste stores in the area.

The city’s commitment to sustainability is evident through its council’s sustainability strategy, which includes goals for packaging and waste management, encouraging residents to reuse and recycle products and packaging. In the 2021-2022 period, Oxford was recognized as one of the highest-performing councils in the UK for waste disposal, with residents recycling or reusing 58.2 percent of household waste.

Norwich and Exeter Follow Closely

Norwich secured the second spot, scoring 7 out of 10. Despite having a smaller population, Norwich demonstrated a strong commitment to refillable options, with the highest number of cleaning product refill facilities (four locations per capita) and the most refill-related Google searches (4430 per month on average per capita). The city also ranked second in coffee refill locations, with 82 facilities available (57 per capita).

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In third place was Exeter, the capital city of Devon, with a score of 6.1 out of 10. Exeter had the highest number of water refill stations per capita (196) and ranked fourth for coffee refill stations (43 per capita), zero-waste shops, and plastic-free shops, as well as cleaning product refill locations (2.32 per capita). However, it had only one lunch refill location (0.77 per capita).

Bristol, Cambridge, and More

Bristol secured the fourth spot with an overall refill score of 5.8. It boasts the most water refill stations in the UK, with 742 locations (157 per capita), and offers 226 coffee refill locations (48 per capita). Cambridge followed closely behind, with 152 water refill stations (105 per capita) and 40 coffee refill locations (28 per capita).

Other cities that made it to the top ten list include Brighton (4.7/10), Bath (4.6/10), Cardiff (4.4/10), Lincoln (3.9/10), and Worcester (3.8/10). These cities demonstrated their commitment to sustainability by offering a range of refillable options.

Wakefield and Salford Lag Behind

On the other end of the spectrum, Wakefield ranked as the city with the least refill facilities, earning an overall score of 0.4 out of 10. Wakefield has no zero-waste, refill, or plastic-free shops or cleaning product refill locations. It only offers three lunch refill stations (0.85 per capita) and seven coffee refill stations (2 per capita).

Salford ranked second to last, also scoring 0.4, due to its lack of zero-waste, refill, or plastic-free shops, as well as cleaning and lunch refill stations.

Promoting Sustainability through Refillable Packaging

With global sustainability efforts taking center stage, investing in refillable packaging has become increasingly important to minimize our impact on the planet. Reusability has influenced consumer purchasing habits, with 43 percent of consumers considering it important. However, availability and hygiene concerns have deterred 29 percent of consumers from embracing refillable options.

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Refillable packaging has the potential to reduce the carbon footprint associated with restocking popular items such as food and beverage, beauty and personal care products, and domestic cleaning supplies. By offering convenient and accessible refill options, businesses can contribute to global sustainability efforts and meet consumer demands for eco-friendly alternatives.

The results of this study shed light on the cities leading the way in refillable packaging facilities and highlight areas where improvements can be made. It is crucial for businesses to carefully assess the demand, energy requirements, material recyclability, and clear instructions when considering the implementation of refillable options. By continuously reviewing the purchase journey and listening to customer feedback, businesses can enhance the customer experience and contribute to a circular economy.

For businesses seeking assistance in custom packaging design or guidance on sustainable packaging solutions, consulting with a specialist packaging provider can be beneficial in achieving their sustainability goals.


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