Posted: 15/06/2023

RECOUP launches new Refill Packaging Case Studies on World Refill Day

To celebrate and support World Refill Day on 16 June, plastics resource efficiency and recycling charity, RECOUP, has launched a new case study looking at the growing trend of refill products and their associated packaging.

While bulk refill purchases have been utilised for commercial needs and cost efficiency measures for many years, growing concern about the environmental impact of packaging makes refills an attractive option for everyday household shopping. Refillable packaging allows consumers to continue to use the original product packaging by offering a refill solution, often distributed in an alternative packaging format with the aim to reduce environmental impact of both products and packaging. More and more brands and retailers are offering refill solutions to meet customer demand and achieve companies’ sustainability targets.

The RECOUP Refill Packaging Case Studies found that refills are widely offered in the household and personal care markets, especially for products such as soap, shampoo, and cleaning liquids, however refill solutions for food and drink products are currently scarcer on the UK market. It also details that numerous formats for the refill containers, such as pouches, bottles, tubes, sachets, jerry cans, and cartons, are available with all formats having their own benefits and potential disadvantages.

Materials used in packaging designed for reuse (both in terms of the refill packaging and the refillable packaging) and their suitability for reuse applications as well as recyclability are also investigated. The new study also considers the environmental message communicated to the consumer and whether this is clear and transparent around green claims and the refill and reuse system.

Richard Cham, Senior Packaging & Recyclability Projects Officer comments ‘‘Reuse is a step forward in reducing plastic waste, but it is important to remember that everything has a life expectancy and reusable packaging is no different.  At some stage, these packs will need to be disposed of and ensuring they are designed with end-of-life in mind is paramount.’

RECOUP concludes that while not always a circular solution, refills and refillable packaging play a vital role in normalising refill and increasing consumers involvement in reuse schemes.

The Refill Packaging Case Study is available to RECOUP members to download from its website here.

RECOUP Recyclability by Design, the essential guide for all those involved in the development and design of plastic packaging is available to all to download from the RECOUP website.

RECOUP Reusability by Design, the reusable plastic packaging design guidance for the value chain is also readily available to everyone to download from the RECOUP Website

Both RECOUP documents assist stakeholders with the design of recyclable and reusable plastic packaging that meets the needs of the value chain from packaging manufacturers, packer/fillers, brands, retailers, consumers, service providers through to waste management companies.