Procter & Gamble (P&G) initially announced the development of its refill pods in October, last year, and trialled the product at this time on its direct-to-consumer site in North America. The Amazon UK launch marked the company's first foray into the European market with this refill concept.
P&G developed the refill pods for its best-selling Olay product ‘Regenerist Whip’ moisturiser - now exclusively available to buy as a set with the original plastic jar product on Amazon’s UK site. The 50ml refillable pod had been designed to simply fit into the empty jar for a second use – “bringing simplicity to a more sustainable beauty regimen”, the company said. The pods were fully recyclable and eliminated 94% of plastic jar waste versus purchasing another jar.
“The trial could radically change the way that we shop for and recycle beauty products in the future, creating a new industry standard that others in the mass beauty space will follow,” P&G said.
Refills ‘just the first step’ for P&G
Katharine Newby Grant, vice president for P&G Northern Europe, said beauty brands had a “responsibility to make a positive difference”.
“…Our goal is to find and adopt many more sustainable beauty packaging solutions, and Olay’s refillable package is just the first step. We’re on a journey when it comes to helping make beauty more sustainable and we’ve certainly made progress, but there’s lots more we can, and are doing, to help us all reduce our impact on the planet,” Grant said.
She said it was clear that “small steps can lead to monumental change” – something P&G was aiming for in its foray into refills with Olay.
Beauty that’s good for the planet and good for people
P&G’s refills trial was accompanied with the hashtag #RefillWithLove that encouraged consumers to share personal stories of 2020 so far and detail what refilling the planet with love meant to them. It also spotlighted the company’s partnership with UK-based feminist organisation Young Women’s Trust and pledge to donate £5 from every purchase of its Olay refill sets to the charity.
Grant said the Olay refills not only offered a product that was good for the planet, but good for people too.
Sophie Walker, chief executive at Young Women’s Trust, said the support would help support young women facing financial crisis and unlock their potential to build a future free from discrimination and inequality.
Refillable beauty future?
A flurry of big beauty brands recently signed onto TerraCycle’s Loop pilot e-commerce platform in the UK, built in partnership with Tesco. The site offered a range of fast-moving consumer goods (FMCGs) in durable, reusable packaging that required consumers to pay a deposit fee on each piece that was then fully refunded to them upon final return when they wanted refills – either through home pick-up or drop-off at collection points.
A total of seven personal care brands had signed up to the platform so far, including Unilever, Beiersdorf and Bulldog Skincare, all of whom said there were great opportunities in the future of reusable beauty.