Special Edition: Sustainable sourcing and waste reduction

‘Safe for us, safe for the planet’: Why Beauty Kitchen developed refillable hand sanitisers during COVID-19

By Kacey Culliney

- Last updated on GMT

Beauty Kitchen's 50ml hand sanitiser glass bottle sprays can be purchased alongside a 500ml refill - both included in the company’s ‘Return. Refill. Repeat’ programme across the UK (Image: Beauty Kitchen)
Beauty Kitchen's 50ml hand sanitiser glass bottle sprays can be purchased alongside a 500ml refill - both included in the company’s ‘Return. Refill. Repeat’ programme across the UK (Image: Beauty Kitchen)

Related tags Beauty Kitchen Sustainable packaging refillable packaging zero waste hand sanitisers COVID-19

UK indie brand Beauty Kitchen has launched a refillable organic hand sanitiser spray, providing an alternative to single-use plastic products it says are littering the market during the ongoing coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

Scotland-headquartered Beauty Kitchen – renowned for its ‘Return. Refill. Repeat’ programme that it launched last year – developed the hand sanitiser following calls from the Scottish government to help provide the National Health Service (NHS) with critical supplies. Beauty Kitchen halted production in other areas to manufacture and roll out the product but decided to also use the time to develop a sustainable variant.

Combatting single-use plastic problem ‘our duty’

“It is estimated that one billion bottles of single-use plastic hand sanitiser will be used in the UK this year alone, so we felt it was our duty to combat this with our refillable organic, vegan hand sanitiser spray,”​ said Jo Chidley, founder of Beauty Kitchen.

Chidley told CosmeticsDesign-Europe that during the current COVID-19 crisis – which had brought climate change, sustainability and the basics of living simultaneously to the fore – Beauty Kitchen wanted to address the “complicated subject of sustainability” ​in a simple way.

She said hand sanitisers currently flooding the market contained numerous microplastics and were largely encased in single-use plastic bottles. “What is safe for us should be safe for the planet too.”

“…We are passionate about making sustainable products that fit with the circular economy and making them an easy and accessible choice for anyone,”​ she said.

Beauty Kitchen’s 50ml hand sanitiser glass bottle sprays, made with a blend of 62% alcohol and high-grade antibacterial essential oils, could be purchased along with a 500ml refill – both included in the company’s ‘Return. Refill. Repeat’ programme across the UK.

Beauty Kitchen hoped others in the beauty category could “follow suit from this example”,​ she said.

The arrival of a refillable beauty movement?

Asked if consumers had bought into the concept of beauty refills, Chidley said: “Refillable beauty has taken its time to grow, however there is gathering ground, particularly with your everyday personal care products like body wash, shampoo and conditioner.”

There had been a “significant shift in consumer behaviour” ​in recent years, driven by zero waste movements and widespread initiatives from larger retailers worldwide, she said, and this would continue to propel consumer interest in refills.

“Everyone wants to be a part of this movement; it’s on trend. Consumers are searching and asking for these options and although there will be a proportion of the industry that use it as a marketing tool, rather than seeking a real shift in behaviour, it’s an exciting time,”​ Chidley said.

From a business perspective, she said it was important any industry developments were commercially viable and considered long-term impact over short-term profit goals.

“The biggest challenge with refillable beauty is to consider a circular economy over the current linear supply chain approach,” ​she said. “With a Cradle to Cradle approach, which includes the circular economy, you are changing overall behaviour with both consumers and current business practices. It is difficult to change habits but education and evidence that refillable beauty can be a success will provide positive example to the industry.”

Chidley said refillable beauty was not currently as widely available as it should be, which added to the uptake problem, but Beauty Kitchen was on a mission to overturn that. The company would soon roll out refill stations across the UK and was currently in discussions with retailers and other brands about collaborative projects to raise standards and make reusing and refilling “accessible to more consumers”,​ she said.

Industry must transition from ‘recycle’ to ‘reuse’

In the meantime, Chidley said there was plenty industry could do – starting with a transition away from over- focus on recycling and recyclability to reusing and reusability.

“Of course, we champion recycling, but when only 9% of plastic is being recycled on a global scale, the focus needs to shift to a more zero waste attitude,”​ she said.

“Recycling is a get-out for companies who push their irresponsible packaging onto the consumers, who don’t know what to do with it and trusts that the system will recycle it.”

Jo Chidley will feature in CosmeticDesign's global Clean & Ethical Beauty video series​, launching on June 16, in Episode 2 'Behind the brands' on June 23.

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