Consumer goods company Henkel is testing liquid detergent refill stations with the drug store chain Rossmann in the Czech Republic, stating the pilot is part of an effort to close the packaging loop.
Henkel refill stations being tested at Rossmann stores
German chemical and consumer goods company Henkel is testing liquid detergent refill stations with the drug store chain Rossmann in Central Europe. Henkel’s newly published sustainability report says that the pilot is part of an effort to close the packaging loop. “When entering the store, the customer selects an empty bottle of the required product and scans its code at the station. A label is also printed to inform the customer of the product’s expiry date. When the product is used up, the customer takes the empty bottle back to refill it,” Henkel explained in their 2019 report.
The “gas station” system is designed to be user-friendly
Last November, German chemical and consumer goods company Henkel set up refill stations at Rossmann locations in Czechia (Czech Republic). Customers can refill liquid detergents, fabric softeners, dishwashing liquids or shampoos and shower gels in selected stores, the consumer goods company said. Henkel says that it designed the “gas station” system to be user-friendly.
“We are testing refill solutions in relevant markets to explore and understand consumer acceptance, as well as the related requirements and costs,” Henkel said. “We also want to maximise the re-usability of secondary and tertiary packaging that is typically used for shelf displays or logistical purposes.”
Henkel’s Sustainable Packaging Targets
Earlier this month, Henkel detailed other packaging efforts and announced new targets for 2025. Previously, the company aimed to make 100% of their packaging recyclable, reusable or compostable by that year. Now, the goal is to have all the packaging either be recyclable or reusable — except adhesive products where the residue could affect recyclability or contaminate recycling streams.
In addition, Henkel wants to reduce the amount of virgin plastics from fossil sources in its consumer products by 50%. Eliminating environmental plastic waste has also become a bigger focus for 2025.
The company says that it is working on solutions such as:
- Adhesives and coatings for flexible packaging that are designed for recycling.
- Offering labeling adhesives for PET containers that allow clean debonding.
- Minimising complexity regarding materials used for production and simplifying the packaging structures wherever possible.
“To assess our footprint, we use representative life cycle appraisals across all product categories,” the company’s report said. “We also assess data on the raw ingredients and packaging materials we use.”
What do you think? Would this be something you would embrace at your local supermarket? They aren’t the only company to try this approach. See below.
Sainsbury’s announce trial of Ecover refill stations
Following the retailer’s recent pledge to become Net Zero across its operations by 2040, the UK’s second-largest retailer, Sainsbury’s last month announced a new trial of refillable Ecover stations for washing up liquid and laundry detergent.
From 26 February, customers in Sainsbury’s Harringay superstore now have the option to refill selected Ecover cleaning products using bottles that can be used up to 50 times, with the potential to save over a million tonnes of plastic per year. The refill trial will also be extended to a further 19 stores later this year.
A Sainsbury’s spokesperson said: “Refillable packaging is just one initiative we plan to trial this year and goes to show how a small change can make a big difference. We look forward to hearing feedback from the trial with a view to rolling out more widely across the estate if successful.”
Tom Domen, Global Head of Long-Term Innovation at Ecover, said: “As manufacturers, we believe we need to totally re-think plastic – how we make it, use it, re-use it and recycle it. At Ecover we want to challenge the idea of single use packaging and our disposable culture. This partnership with Sainsbury’s is an important step in kickstarting a REFILLUTION® in the UK and realising our goal of making refills more accessible for everyone”.
The trial is the latest in a series of store initiatives aiming to reduce, reuse or replace plastic across the business’s operations, as well as reducing carbon emissions.
Last month, Sainsbury’s announced its commitment to become Net Zero by 2040, by taking measures across its operations in recycling, plastic packaging, carbon reduction and biodiversity among others. Sainsbury’s is also calling on its suppliers to take action and develop their own environmental goals over the coming years.
TIME TO BAN ALL PLASTIC PACKAGING FOR GOOD SOUNDS IMPOSSIBLE, RIGHT? WRONG!
Sustainable solutions are being developed in ever growing numbers, offering the conscientious consumer viable green alternatives to the blight of plastic packaging. Check them out here.