P&G to launch refillable shampoo bottles in 2021

Image: P&G

The consumer goods giant unveiled images of the new format for the first time today (22 October). Customers will be encouraged to purchase a reusable aluminium bottle, which they can refill from new pouches. The pouches consist of a flexible plastic packet with a rigid plastic neck.

P&G has calculated that the refill pouches use 60% less plastic per millilitre of product than traditional shampoo bottles. It claims that they can be recycled from kerbside collections in all European countries bar Belgium, Ireland and Switzerland, which do not have the appropriate recycling infrastructure.

Products from Head & Shoulder, Pantene, Herbal Essences and Aussie will be available in the new refillable format from early 2021. P&G plans to launch the format in every European market it is currently selling into. Its beauty arm is notably aiming to halve the amount of virgin plastic used to house shampoos and conditioners by the end of 2021.

“This new packaging innovation will contribute to making the reuse of packaging irresistible, while enabling a reduction of virgin plastic as per P&G’s Ambition 2030 commitment,” P&G’s chief sustainability officer Virginie Helias said. “It’s no longer about if or what we can do, but how quickly we can do it – the window is now for embracing new sustainable lifestyles.”

Plastics action

P&G’s Ambition 2030 sustainability strategy outlines a five-pillar approach to tackling plastics packaging. Launched last spring, the plastics framework includes a goal to ensure all packaging is 100% recyclable or reusable by 2030, bolstered by shorter-term pledges to achieve 100% recyclability by 2022.

In recognition of the fact that just 9% of all plastics produced to date have been successfully recycled, P&G’s strategy also outlines plastic reduction targets for each of P&G’s divisions. Aside from Beauty, the Fabric Care division is targeting a 30% reduction in plastics use by 2025.

Several of P&G’s brands are already listed on Loop – TerraCycle’s multi-brand refill platform which is currently operating in the US, France and the UK. Loop sees customers pay a deposit fee on each piece of packaging that is refunded to them when TerraCycle’s courier partners collect the empty containers.

While this direct-to-consumer model has proven popular with brands, investors and shoppers alike, many other brands are opting for in-store refill models. The Body Shop, for example, has a refill station for shower gels at its Bond Street Store, while Waitrose’s ‘Unpacked’ stores stock packaging-free washing-up liquid, laundry detergent and beer.

Covid-19 has presented complications for the refill movement. But momentum seems to be gaining pace once again; Asda opened a ‘sustainability store’ with more than 30 packaging-free product lines in Middleton, Leeds, earlier this week.

Sarah George

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