We believe refills can play a major part in helping to reduce overall plastic consumption. Ahead of our launch, we’ve been working with Wrap – creators of the UK Plastic Pact – to ensure we do that in the best possible way.
One of the key things we’ve discovered is that not all pouches are created equal. It sounds obvious, but a pouch has to be able to be recycled in the first place. Most existing refill pouches are made from a flexible plastic called LDPE (low-density polyethylene) that can’t currently be processed with standard domestic recycling.
The good news is that an increasing number of brands are finding clever ways around that. Here’s a quick guide to the kinds of pouches we suggest you look out for and how to use – and recycle – them and a few brands that are getting it right.
Even pouches made from recyclable plastic bring their own challenges. Pouches with spouts, for example, use two different types of plastic in the spout and pouch itself. These ‘multi-material’ pouches need to be processed through a specialist facility, such as Terracycle (they’ll end up in landfill if they go into domestic recycling programmes). Some – though by no means all – brands will do this for you, so check before you buy.
Check out: L’Occitane, bath and body refills.
Return: To store – L’Occitane will send for recycling.
Check out: Bower Collective, household cleaning and personal care refills.
Return: All products offer refills and pouches come with a return envelope for you to return direct to the brand for cleaning and reuse.
Much easier are mono pouches. These simple, sealed LDPE refill pouches are able to be recycled in the same way as plastic bags. Check the back of the product to find out whether or not it’s suitable.
If it is, then you can recycle it exactly as you would any plastic shopping bag, either by posting in the relevant recycling bin at the supermarket or simply return to driver with your online grocery delivery.
Check out: Scrubbingtons – children’s bath and body products.
Recycle: Via supermarket recycling bins or with grocery delivery.
Good to know: 17% of local authorities now accept mono LDP pouches as part of domestic recycling programme. (Details on individual authority’s websites.)
Supersize Your Refill
Refills aren’t just about pouches. Refill bottles made from recyclable HDPE plastic can be a good alternative – and the bigger you go, the better the payoff, in recycling terms.
A 5-litre refill bottle, for example, is the equivalent of 16 smaller bottles at a standard 250ml size, which means a lot less plastic to handle. When it’s finished, it can go straight into your domestic recycling. Easy peasy.