The amount of plastic waste circulating the world is staggering. An estimated 79% of all plastic – from product packaging to shopping bags – covers landfills, washes into the ocean, or flutters around streets and alleys. Experts say the world is “drowning in plastic,” but consumers and companies alike are starting to make changes.
There are several companies, particularly those in the UK, that are now offering refill technology. The idea is simple. Consumers pay for a reusable bottle and bring it back to a store for a refill when they’re ready for more. Take a look at the initiatives that are taking refill technology mainstream.
Refill initiatives that are making a difference
• Environmental organization connect consumers with refill options
The number of companies offering refillable options is growing, but it’s hard for consumers to keep track of. To help, Refill, a UK organization dedicated to helping people live with less plastic, has created an app for consumers to find places to eat, drink, and shop with less waste. On the app consumers can find water refill stations, restaurants that eliminate to-go containers by packing food in consumer-provided lunchboxes, or stores that don’t use plastic bags.
• Refill station for body wash
The Body Shop, a UK company that sells skincare products, has installed a refill station in its London shop. Consumers can pick from six of the company’s most popular shower gels and pump them into a reusable bottle. The refill station is just part of the company’s efforts to reduce waste. Due to growing concerns about single-use plastics, The Body Shop also plans to phase out wet wipes, give consumers coupons for returning empty bottles, and add upcycled furniture to its store.
If successful, the company plans to make these changes in other stores in Europe and North America.
• Cleaning products delivered to your door in reusable bottles
During the pandemic, an English woman created a company aimed at reducing plastic waste. The Bottle Drop will deliver cleaning products, for both homes and humans, to a consumer’s door in reusable containers. Many of the bottles resemble old-school milk bottles.
How does it work? Orders are placed online, deliveries are made each week, and empty bottles are picked up, sterilized, and reused in future orders.
• Refillable shampoo
Unilever’s Mexican shampoo brand, Sedal, introduced a refill station inside several Walmart stores. Consumers could buy a reusable aluminum bottle and refill it rather than buy the more expensive plastic bottles. In the first ten days, the company sold two tons of shampoo and the demand only continued. As a result, the company plans to introduce the program across Mexico.
Refill technology already exists in the US
Wondering why you can’t take advantage of refill technology in the states? The technology exists, but a lot of retailers aren’t keen on the idea. They don’t believe consumers will use refill stations. If you’re interested in using a refill station to purchase your favorite cleaner, soap, shampoo, and other household goods, sign this petition. Tell retailers that you’re ready to refill and help curb plastic pollution.