‘Re’, the ground-breaking reuse model and circular economy initiative, developed by Beauty Kitchen, has announced that UK Research and Innovation’s (UKRI) Smart Sustainable Plastic Packaging (SSPP) Challenge is granting £3 million in funding specifically for the wider development and roll out of ‘Re’ across the UK. ‘Re’ will become the new spearhead of the national effort to fulfil the UK’s Plastics Pact which seeks to alter the UK’s relationship with, and management of, plastic packaging.
So far, the ‘highly successful’ trial of the reuse model has saved over 4 million bottles from landfill to date. ‘Re’ has an overall target to save over 100 million bottles from landfill within the next 3 years.
Commenting on the funding news and successful ‘Re’ trial results, Co-Founder of Beauty Kitchen & ‘Re’, Jo-Anne Chidley said: “This funding is exactly what ‘Re’ needs to help refine and share the model with more brands, retailers and consumers. We are very pleased with the UKRI’s decision and look forward to seeing the impact of this grant funding right away.
“We are also thrilled to see the highly successful results from the ongoing trials for ‘Re’; this is exactly what we were hoping for as so many of our efforts have been focused on over the past couple of years. All three of the key elements of the circular economy are buying into it. The consumers love it, the brands who use the reusable containers are very pleased, and the big retailers are all for it. This is how you make change and reduce waste. This is the future; a collaborative, circular economy that works for all parties…we are sharing this technology to co-operate with other brands, retailers, and corporations to accelerate an inclusive, scalable, and repeatable circular packaging solution”
“Join us! This is an initiative for all brands in the cosmetics, beauty and personal care industries. You will be welcomed with open arms; we will help you enter this ecosystem which will deliver real change that will benefit our environment.”
The ‘Re’ model invites customers to return empty packaging with the Re logo to be washed and put back into the supply chain so they can be reused time and time again with zero waste. The overall goal will be to save over 100 million empty bottles from landfill within three years across the beauty and wider skincare and cosmetics industry.
The successful trial of the pre-filled and returnable packaging scheme for liquid products has been developed and executed in partnership with RBC Group, experts in logistics and automated retail, and environmental charity City to Sea.
As the ‘Re’ project moves forward with the new funding, consumers will be now easily able to find all Re’s Refill Stations through City to Sea’s Refill App that tells customers where their nearest places to eat, drink and shop with less plastic are. City to Sea will lead the customer behaviour change journey.
City to Sea’s Founder and CEO, Natalie Fée commented: “You can’t talk seriously about tackling plastic pollution without scaling up refill and reuse packaging solutions. Today’s announcement of £3 million in UKRI funding will turbocharge our partnership with Re that has already shown fantastic potential for reducing waste and keeping waste out of landfill and our seas. Through years of engaging consumers and communities in refill and reuse, we know what works and what doesn’t. And that’s why we’re so excited to see Re’s innovative ‘pay once, reuse forever’ messaging combined with easy-to-use packaging and refill machines solutions to be scaled up. You can’t just ask people to use less plastic, you have to inspire them and make it easy for them. Today’s announcement has the potential to completely reform how people shop in supermarkets up and down the country. These are the first sparks of nothing short of a refill revolution; get ready for a total paradigm shift in packaging world.”
The ‘Re’ programme as a service enables brands, retailers and consumers to change their behaviour to eliminate FMCG single-use plastic packaging by changing consumers of products to be customers of cost-effective packaging as a service. Consisting of:
- Smart Bottles – Re packaging marked with unique trackable assets using steel, glass and next generation washable plastics
- Smart Track & Analytics – throughout the supply chain and customer use for every packaging cycle to accurately track behaviour and impacts
- Wide Product Range – packaging suitable for cross categories including but not limited to laundry, homecare, personal care, food and drink
- Advanced Refill Stations – interactive stations where customers can fill a ‘Re Smart Bottle’ with a product of their choice
- Prefilled Product in Reusable Packaging – customers can purchase ready-filled product in the reusable Re ‘Smart Bottle’
- Advanced Return Points – interactive return points for both Prefill and Refill Station Re ‘Smart Bottle’ to be returned for washing
So far, the ‘Re’ trial results across 19 supermarkets in UK are as follows:
- 80% return/refill rate
- 64% consumers would switch retailer to use a refill station
- 94% consumers would shop more at a retailer who had refill stations
- 95% rated refill station user experience as “Good” or “Very Good”
- 96% would repurchase from the refill station
Through launching the programme, Re is dedicated to proving to all industries that rely on packaging, that refillable product models (circular models) can be successful, scalable, and profitable. Advocating a collaborative approach, Unilever became the second customer of Re, with a successful launch of three in-store Refill Stations as part of ASDA’s Sustainability Store in Leeds.
Boosted by the new funding, the ‘Re’ project will be delivered in partnership with environmental plastic pollution campaigners, City to Sea. City to Sea are experts in consumer behaviour change in refill and reuse, and run the award winning Refill Campaign. City to Sea will be leading the customer behaviour change journey of customers purchasing from the scaled up pilot projects utilising decades of experience in engaging customers with refill and reuse.
Open to all brands and industries, ELEMIS, an innovative and global British skincare brand with over 30 years of expertise, dedicated to ‘truth in beauty’, is the latest brand to join forces with ‘Re’.
Also commenting on the launch, Oriele Frank, Chief Product & Sustainability Officer, Elemis, said: “Sustainability in the beauty and wellness sector is something that a lot of brands are looking to improve upon, and it is incredibly humbling to see. The ambition for ELEMIS over the next couple of years is to become the most sustainable luxury skin wellness brand. Currently, we are in a pilot program with Beauty Kitchen to offer refillable options for two of our products, with an aim to have fully recyclable and reusable packaging by 2025. This is a personal interest of mine, and everyone at ELEMIS, and it is our mission to do better for the planet – not only for us, but for generations to come.”
A key part of the Re programme includes the innovative, reusable stainless steel ‘Smart’ Re bottles which customers can track their own positive impact and plastic savings and view the number of times that bottle has been in circulation via a web enabled App, by scanning the QR code on the bottles. Here customers can track the plastic saving, plant trees, earn rewards and monitor impact.
Outperforming its plastic equivalent, the Smart Re bottle only need reusing once before its global warming potential (kgCO2e. kilograms of CO2 equivalent) is lower than single use plastic packaging. The bottles can be produced as prefilled product, or for use with the interactive Refill Stations, developed with a return point for the empty bottles. The Refill Stations have been developed and manufactured in the UK and can be remanufactured to incorporate updated technology, eliminating future waste.