Refill revolution

The Body Shop in the US has announced it is broadening its refill programme across stores, with the goal of having 49% of all locations equipped with refill stations by the end of 2022.

The refill scheme sees consumers pick up one of The Body Shop’s aluminium bottles, fill it up in-store with product and then use up, wash and bring the bottle back to refill.

Refillable and recyclable packaging is a definitely a step up, but not without its difficulties. Schemes like The Body Shop’s rely heavily on their consumers, so you’ve got to get the marketing right to get the message through. Apparently, The Body Shop UK already implemented this aluminium bottle scheme (in 2019) but it’s the first I’ve heard of it, and one could argue that I fit into the ideal target audience. Even then, half the battle is consumers adjusting their habits; it’s not necessarily a lifestyle change, but at the end of the day it is one more thing to remember to put in a bag and bring out with you.

Not that I’m defending this behaviour; I try to do my bit. Nowadays I’m never without my Chilly’s bottle. In fact, Chilly’s has partnered with Refill, the UK app that allows you to search nearby for somewhere to fill up your water bottle, with the aim of reducing plastic waste through removing the necessity for plastic water bottles. The two brands have created Refill X Chilly’s bottles, coffee cups and food pots, with £10 from every product bought contributing to Refill’s mission to stop over 100 million plastic bottles from entering the waste stream.

The Refill app is easy to use and handy when you’re out and about. I’ve been using it for a few years now and I’m glad it seems to have caught on. Refill has even got its World Refill Day coming up on the 16 June.

But back to beauty. Another company doing something a little different (and perhaps easier for consumers) with refills is Kankan London, which sees its customers using aluminium cans as containers to refill the brand’s glass ‘Forever Bottle’. The company name is a nod to the can in itself, but Kankan has gone further and elaborated on ‘Why the Can?‘ on its website – we all know the answer to that one, of course, but educating consumers who may not know otherwise is key.

I would like to see more companies taking similar initiatives to The Body Shop and Kankan. Aluminium is the material that keeps on giving, so hopefully the beauty industry can shift its focus towards working with more aluminium packaging manufacturers. Maybe one day we’ll live in a world with refill stations in every shop.

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