Not long ago, refilling packages was something typically associated only with the granola set—picture Birkenstock-clad shoppers lugging their pantry jars to the co-op grocery. Today, the practice is going mainstream, with some of the world’s biggest brands signing on to participate in the new Loop circular shopping platform, which eschews disposable packaging for more durable vessels designed to be refilled.
P&G was the first consumer packaged goods company to sign onto that initiative, and now the company is wading even deeper into the waters of sustainable packaging. Early in June, it announced that its Olay beauty brand would test refillable packaging, making it the first mass retail skincare brand to do so.
Starting this fall and running through the end of the year, the brand will offer full jars of its Olay Regenerist Whip moisturizer with a refill pod that can be placed inside the jar when it’s emptied. Additionally, the package will be sold and shipped in a container made of 100% recycled paper without an outer carton. The refill pods are also recyclable. Pricing has not yet been announced, but the products will be available in select retail stores and on Olay.com in the U.S. and U.K.
The pilot will run for three months, and through it Olay hopes to gain insights about whether consumers are open to refillable beauty products and test the user interface of its refillable packaging concept.
“The ultimate goal is to find and adopt many more sustainable packaging solutions, and the refillable Olay Regenerist Whip package is the first step of that journey,” Anitra Marsh, who leads the global sustainability task for P&G’s Global Skin and Personal Care brands, said in a press release. “It’s really important for us to get it right because only then can we bring this concept to market at scale.”
If the concept is rolled out more broadly, it has the potential to save more than 1 million pounds of plastic from the landfill, an estimated 5 million jars’ worth, according to the company.
Through the Loop initiative, P&G has designed durable, refillable packaging for its Pantene, Tide, Cascade, Crest, Ariel and Febreze brands. It has also created refill solutions for its Oral-B, Gillette and Venus products and will test recycling for used Pampers and Always hygienic products.
Additionally, Olay is taking aim at the issue of waste in skincare through initiatives like Olay Skincare Advisor, an online application that uses artificial intelligence technology to help customers determine the right product for them, and Olay Labs, which matches customers with a four-week skincare regimen.