The path toward sustainability in plastics packaging has taken a simple, yet wickedly clever new twist, thanks to an innovative company in the United Kingdom that looks to disrupt the household cleaners market.
It goes beyond other tried-and-true methods that have taken root over the years, an evolution that began when brands removing water to reformulate products into concentrated version to reduce container sizes and weight throughout the supply chain. We’ve seen this tactic for high-efficiency washer detergents.
Brands also offered concentrated refills that the consumer would dilute with water. The use of flexible packaging refills – specifically pouches – can further optimize the weight savings. It’s a tack used for products including household cleaners.
That was the approach taken by online retailer Splosh, a Welsh start-up based in Newtown founded in 2012 with a goal similar to others eco-minded companies: Be kinder to the environment by reducing the amount of plastic people use by delivering refill pouches for household essentials as concentrates. Consumers simply add water to make the product.
Splosh products are three or four times more concentrated than comparable products, this requiring three or four times less plastic packaging; also, the pouches weigh about 70% less than the equivalent bottles with dispensers.
Splosh Founder Angus Grahame tells PlasticsToday that a handwash gell refill pouch yields 1.5L of ready-to-use product or the equivalent of six 250-mL bottles after dilution.
Now Grahame has concocted a breakthrough to greater sustainability.
Disruptive approach: Hijacking competitor bottles.
Splosh’s new kind of reuse/refill takes things a dramatic step further: It asks consumers to “hijack” competitors’ bottles in a bid to cut waste plastic to zero.
Customers receive via ecommerce email a prepackaged refill pouch in a right-sized corrugated box that also contains instructions and a pressure-sensitive label to apply to the reuse bottle.
Consumers rinse out the other brand’s used handwash bottle, stick the Splosh pressure-sensitive label on it, then follow the instructions to dilute properly with the indicated amount of water.
Splosh reports its standard refill system reusing own branded bottles has already saved more than 725,000 rigid bottles over the past few years.
By hijacking mainstream-brand handwash bottles they expect to save even more.
“Splosh is committed to saving 1 billion bottles and with our unique refill service customers are able to reduce their plastic waste to zero,” says Grahame. “We’ve disrupted the market already with our circular economy approach but we’re going one step further and hijacking the big brand’s handwash bottles. Splosh is committed to eliminating plastic waste through whatever means possible. Everything we do has the environment at the heart of it.”
Is it a problem if the consumers’ reuse bottles different sizes?
“We don't think so, the size of the hijacked bottle isn't really relevant,” Grahame responds.
The brand’s biggest challenge is to support the program with education that can change consumer behavior.
“I think, as with all novel ideas, initial perception is the biggest barrier,” Grahame tells PlasticsToday. “We need to convince our customers that hijacking a bottle is quick and simple, and that refilling is easier than recycling.”
Pouches can be recycled.
These pouches can be recycled and made into useful products when they are saved, washed and returned by customers for free in the same shipping box they received their refill. Consumers are asked to obscure their own mailing address and rewrite it as “FREEPOST Splosh" on the refill box box.
The pouches are recycled into new products that will in time be available at the website for purchase via a closed-loop system.
Grahame informs PlasticsToday that the hijacking' scheme's plan is to “test it one product and, if it works well, to roll it out to other products. The next ones would be the kitchen and bathroom cleaners.”
The scheme is yet another first for the company: Splosh has developed what it claims are the world’s first refillable toilet bowl cleaner and the first shower gel from a refillable concentrate. All the Splosh products are formulated to be environmentally friendly, too.
It all seems ingeniously sustainable to me...what do you think? Please comment below.