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In the second of a series of articles looking at ThePackHub’s Global Packaging Trends Compendium, Paul Jenkins, Managing Director, ThePackHub, takes a look at the subject of refills. 

The Global Packaging Trends Compendium 2021 details more than 550 packaging innovations and is grouped into nine trends. ‘Refill Revolution’ is one of the trend areas that is exhibiting strong growth. Despite potential disruption from the COVID-19 pandemic, reusable and refillable packaging examples have increased in occurrence, notably over the last 18 months as brands, retailers and suppliers look at ways of reducing single-use and difficult to recycle packaging. Sectors such as dry food, household products and personal care are leading the way by making the most initial ground to transition to refillable and reusable packaging models.

The majority of the in-store examples coming to market are at the small trial and pilot stage, with refillable packaging systems set up in a handful of test stores. Major retail chains are testing the water with a small number of initiatives in outlets. However, cosmetics, skincare and perfume retailer The Body Shop is bucking this trend and scaling up their trial operations.

Refillable scheme starts global roll out

Following successful trials in two of its concept stores, The Body Shop is rolling out its refill and recycle scheme across the globe. The initial trial, started in 2019, was launched in Bond Street, London, and Vancouver’s Pacific Centre store. The extended launch will start in France, across 47 stores, and will extend to 400 stores worldwide by the end of 2021. The Body Shop plans to have refill stations in all of its stores by 2026. The scheme works by shoppers being given a 250ml aluminium bottle, then choosing from a selection of products, including shower gels, shampoos, conditioners and soaps. Once the product has been used, the customer cleans the bottle themselves and returns it to the store for a refill. The number of refill stations will vary depending on the size of the store but is expected to be between six and 12 per outlet.

Gable-top carton refill pack for soap launched 

Norwegian home and personal care manufacturer Orkla has collaborated with Elopak to produce a sustainable refill pack for its Klar laundry detergent and liquid soap products. The new board-based carton, called D-PAK, is a move by Orkla to help consumers reduce the amount of plastic generated in the waste stream. The gable-top carton is made from renewable materials and is said to be suitable for recycling with other board products such as milk cartons and newspapers. A trial has been conducted with selected retailers and online purchasers. Consumer feedback has been positive, with reports that refilling is easy and convenient. Consumers need to pour from the carton into the original plastic container. It is said that the new pack is more efficient through the supply chain, as it saves weight and is also more cost-effective by volume. A label over the cap is added to alert the consumer that the pack’s contents are not for consumption. 

Return and refill scheme aims to reduce carbon footprint

Upcircle, a ‘by-product’ sustainable skincare brand based in London, is launching a new return and refill scheme to help reduce its carbon footprint. The company repurposes waste materials, such as coffee grounds from London coffee shops along with other waste products such as fruit stones, argan, olives, juice and tea. Ninety-nine per cent of the company’s current packaging is already plastic-free, being made from easily recycled board, glass and aluminium and now the remaining 1% can now also be recycled. Customers will be able to return their cleaned, empty packaging free of charge, which will then be sterilized, refilled and returned to customers. As part of the scheme, the shopper will receive a 20% discount on the original price. Upcircle also has an in-store set up where customers can bring in their packs to be refilled from bulk containers. 

Reusable cup trial starts coffee chain trial

Coffee shop heavyweights Starbucks are trialling a new reusable cup programme called ‘Borrow a Cup’ in five Seattle stores for two months. The aim is to reduce single-use cup waste. The customer requests a reusable cup and pays a $1 deposit. When the drink is finished, it can then be scanned at a participating store’s collection point, and once the cup’s return has been confirmed the $1 is refunded along with 10 bonus points that are added to the customer’s account. The cups are then taken away and commercially cleaned and sanitized. The cups are ready for reuse within 48 hours. The expected number of reuses for each cup is 30 times before they are recycled. The initiative is part of Starbucks’ aim to reduce waste by 50% by 2030.

The Refill Revolution trend is anticipated to maintain its growth trajectory. Brands and retailers will continue to develop refillable and reusable solutions to meet their sustainability objectives as the sector becomes more normalized.

The 2021 Global Packaging Trends Compendium comprises nine new packaging trends. It features a comprehensive assessment of more than 550 packaging innovations. It also includes the interviews of 16 industry experts from around the world, featuring packaging experts from the likes of Mars Wrigley, Mondelez, Ocado, as well as Tim Sykes, Brand Director at Packaging Europe.

More information here: https://www.thepackhub.com/services/global-packaging-trends-compendium-2021/