Refill packaging is winning formula for sustainability: Pira International

By Katie Nichol

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Packaging and labeling Packaging Sustainable packaging

As packaging manufacturers are looking to reduce their impact on the environment, refill formats are emerging as the new winning formula, according to a recent report from market research company Pira International.

‘The Future of Personal Care Packaging’ revealed that lifestyle choices and internet-based education are helping to drive environmental issues, resulting in growing consumer awareness over the environmental impact of packaging.

According to Pira, refill packaging formats are emerging as a leader in the sustainability stakes due to the fact they are light, robust and cost and space effective.

Refill packaging as alternative to glass and metal

In particular, the report highlighted that refill packaging offers an alternative to materials such as glass or metal which consume large amounts of energy during the manufacturing proves.

Several companies in the cosmetics market are tapping into the potential of refill packaging, for example, US niche brand, Hourglass Cosmetics that sells refillable cartridges for its Trace Lip and Eye Liners to help cut down on packaging waste.

Similarly, packaging company HCP developed a one-handed click pen for lip-gloss or concealer application. In addition to the standard 5.5ml pack, the click pen is available in a 2ml refillable size, where the PP cartridges can be replaced when the product runs out, allowing for multiple applications within the one outer case.

The company Twistub recently launched a recyclable packaging concept of the same name, which comes in two parts; a dispenser and a refill pack (Twispak).

Twisting the base of the pot dispenses a precise amount of the cream through a small aperture in the top of the refill. When empty, the Twispak can then be replaced and the dispenser reused multiple times.

As the volume of material used to produce the Twispak is significantly less than the dispensing pot, repeated use of the refills saves on plastic. According to the company, material savings of up to 50 per cent can be made over a 1-2 year period, rising to 75 per cent over a 3-4 year period.

Motivation behind sustainable packaging

Although the report predicted that environmental concerns are likely to drive the future agenda of all packaging companies, a desire to ‘save the planet’ as a result of genuine corporate social responsibility may not be the primary motivating factor.

It was noted that some companies may focus more on the competitive advantage or cost savings to be gained through adopting more environmentally-friendly packaging materials.

Pira also noted that rigid packaging will continue to be a big seller, although glass and flexible packaging represent the biggest growth potential. Metal, on the other hand, is likely to remain static with little or no growth, the report predicted.

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