21 November 2023

REWE trials refill stations at eleven stores

Product dispensers contain up to 23 different organic REWE products
Reading time: 5 min.

REWE is currently trialling innovative refill stations for dry goods, such as rice, pasta and cereal, in conjunction with the Czech start-up MIWA. REWE is the first food retailer in Germany to introduce a scheme of this nature and is using hygienic, user-friendly digital dispensing stations in the trial. The refill stations are also part of two closed recycling loops at the same time, making the system particularly sustainable.

The trial was launched at REWE’s Lövenich store in Cologne, with a further ten stores joining the scheme by mid-November. The advantage for customers is the ability to buy loose produce in the quantities they need, thus avoiding food waste. This is because all of the REWE organic products that are now available loose are popular, well-established items that have been sold in REWE stores for years. The trial, which will last for six months in each store, is intended to examine customer acceptance, feasibility and the cost-effectiveness of rolling out the refill stations across other stores.

The stations are easy to use. Customers can either borrow reusable jars (€1.50 deposit, 500ml capacity) or reusable dishes (€2.50, 1.2l) from the refill station or use their own shatter-proof container. If customers bring their own container, they need to weigh it on the scales and confirm the weight on an integrated display before they use it so that they only pay for the product itself.  If they use the “Einfach Mehrweg” reusable containers provided, they can be filled immediately without the need to tare, as the weight of the reusable containers provided by REWE is already saved in the refill station.

Customers select the product on the integrated display before filling the container by gently pressing it against the dispenser. The screen displays the estimated quantity and price of the product as it is dispensed. The final weight and exact price are displayed once the container is placed on the integrated scales. The refill station then prints the price label, which the customer sticks on the container. Customers simply need to click the “dispense other products” button to continue shopping at the refill station. To ensure that the station is easy to use, customers can follow written and illustrated step-by-step instructions for the entire dispensing process on the screen.

At the checkout, the loose produce is charged based on the label. This includes the deposit when using an “Einfach Mehrweg” reusable container. These containers can be returned at a reverse vending machine at any REWE store and other system partners. “Einfach Mehrweg” containers are certified by the Blue Angel label and have received the ECR Award. They are part of a public deposit-return system that promotes efficient reuse and recycling.

As the loose products are also packed in large handy reusable containers, the refill stations are part of a second closed recycling loop and thus differ from the usual refill systems on the market. These are refilled by REWE’s organic product manufacturers and delivered to stores. There, the large containers are simply hung up at the refill stations, also avoiding the need to decant goods in the store. If the large containers are empty, they are cleaned and returned to the manufacturer to be refilled and labelled accordingly.

The promotion of loose-product systems and reusable alternatives is a key aspect of the REWE Group’s packaging strategy. In this context, the trial of refill stations using reusable containers is the next logical step towards achieving the ambitious goal of doubling the number of loose products or those in reusable containers in our stores by the end of 2025 compared with 2021.

Overview of markets that are testing unpackaged stations:

  • REWE Flammuth, Kölner Str. 26, 50859 Köln-Lövenich

  • REWE Center, Am Weidenbach 31, 53229 Bonn-Beuel

  • REWE Istas, Hauptstr. 128, 50996 Köln-Rodenkirchen

  • REWE Koll, Kölner Str. 422, 51515 Kürten-Bechen

  • REWE Reinartz, Von-Coels-Str. 206, 52080 Aachen-Eilendorf

  • REWE Reinartz, Lütticher Str. 19, 52064 Aachen

  • REWE Heinrich, Allmannshausen 8-12, 56410 Montabaur

  • REWE Sauter (Hüter EKZ), Samoborstr. 5, 56422 Wirges

  • REWE Istas, Kölner Ring 2, 50374 Erftstadt-Lechenich

  • REWE Istas, Lise-Meitner-Str. 4, 50321 Brühl

  • REWE Cahon, Immenburgstr. 42, 53121 Bonn-Endenich

About REWE

With sales of 30.6 billion euros (2023), more than 170.000 employees and over 3,800 REWE stores, REWE Markt GmbH is one of Germany’s leading food retail companies. REWE stores are run as subsidiaries or by independent REWE retailers.

The cooperatively organised REWE Group is one of the leading trade and tourism groups in Germany and Europe. In 2023, the company generated a total external turnover of around 92billion euros. Founded in 1927, the REWE Group has around 390,000 employees and operates in 21 European countries.

Thomas Bonrath
Spokesperson REWE Group