Great packaging design ideas succeed when they can be scaled up at a reasonable cost to ensure profitability. Selling a concept to mega-retailer Walmart usually means kicking it into high gear when it comes to volume.
The innovative Replenish refill packaging system can now check both items off its To Do list. Last November, Replenish announced a new partnership with Berry Plastics for the optimization and efficient manufacture of the reusable bottles and refill pods. With the scale-up in place, Walmart selected Replenish for its line of CleanPath concentrated cleaning and personal care products.
Jason Foster, founder of Replenish, will be speaking at the upcoming SustPack 2015 conference (Mar. 31-Apr. 2; Orlando, FL) about “Making it to the Big Leagues: Not Your Grandparent’s Spray Bottle—Building a New Platform for Concentrates and How the Future of Reuse Should Look Like”
Foster talks about these recent developments in an exclusive Packaging Digest interview.
What is the sustainability profile of the Replenish Refill System versus traditional refills?
Foster: Many of the household products we buy, including cleaners and soaps, are 90% water. Replenish’s Refill System saves money and reduces waste by making it easy to add water at home to your favorite products with a reusable bottle that attaches directly to a concentrate refill pod. Since each refill pod makes three bottles, consumers get more of what they need instead of being forced to buy mostly water and plastic.
By not shipping water and using a reusable bottle, Replenish cuts plastic, energy and greenhouse gas emissions by up to 90% compared to buying disposable plastic bottles.
Our goal is to work directly with brands and retailers to use Replenish technology as a platform for sustainable innovation and to make packaging a strategic asset, not something you throw away.
How has Berry Plastics facilitated the commercialization of the Replenish Refill System?
Foster: Berry was instrumental in helping us take a great design and scale it to full automation and mass production. The design and utility of a bottle hasn’t really changed in hundreds of years. Most bottles are blow molded which wasn’t a manufacturing process we could use to make Replenish. Therefore, Berry had to rethink the manufacturing process and come up with a new way to manufacture Replenish at scale, which was quite an achievement.
How were you able to offer an affordable version of the Replenish Refill System to Walmart’s customers through your partnership with the retailer for its CleanPath brand?
Foster: Because of the success Walmart had in 2008 moving liquid laundry detergent to 3x concentrate, Walmart quickly recognized the advantages of moving other consumer products that are mostly water today to concentrate. Once you dig deeper, it’s easy to understand why. It’s a rare quadruple bottom line win for Walmart. Concentrates drive more revenue density on shelf, consumers save money on their purchase, costs are reduced across the entire supply chain and massive sustainability savings are created in every aspect of the product’s lifecycle.
Replenish’s Refill System was a platform designed specifically for concentrates with a new integrated design that not only stored the concentrate refill but made it easy to mix with water—something previous concentrate refill attempts had failed to do.
Therefore for Walmart to get Replenish technology to shelf quickly, they empowered us along with private label manufacturer ViJon Inc. to create a new brand in the cleaning aisle called CleanPath that would use the Replenish Refill System. This would allow Walmart to see how consumers liked the technology.
The great news is consumers love the technology and are coming back to buy refills. It’s easy to see the sustainability savings of Replenish but empowering people to take control and save money created so many other new convenience related benefits as well. People discovered they like having more refills at their fingertips or not remembering to buy more bottles at the store to lighter shopping bags or more storage space under the sink.
Innovation creates new benefits and we are excited to see the feedback CleanPath and Replenish is getting across the country in small and big cities alike.
At SustPack 2015, you’ll be presenting on what the future of reuse should look like. Can you give me a preview of what you will be talking about and how Replenish fits into the new platform for concentrates?
Foster: My presentation is going to be mostly interpretative dance with little to no slides. I guess you will have to come check it out and let me know if you think concentrates and reuse is the future of packaging.