Global consumer brands company Unilever announces plans to expand refillable packaging trials across the United Kingdom, including the company’s first ‘return on the go’ refill trial.

The new return on the go trial allows shoppers to pick up a pre-filled stainless-steel reusable bottle and return it in-store in selected Asda & Co-op stores once used. The brand announced that some of its other well-known brands, including Persil, Simple, Radox, and Alberto Balsam will also be available to purchase in reusable stainless-steel bottles by the end of this year.

According to Unilever, 94% of consumers in the UK are more likely to invest in refills, and 89% are likely to purchase a product if it’s reusable.

Sebastian Munden, Unilever UK & Ireland General Manager and Executive Vice-President, said:

“To tackle plastic pollution with the speed and urgency needed, we are committed to creating scalable solutions which make it as easy as possible for people to make sustainable choices.

“We believe refills could be a gamechanger in our ambitions to halve our use of virgin plastic by 2025, however unlocking the full potential of the reuse economy would require a significant shift in how people shop. Using our well-known and trusted brands and working closely with retailers, we are testing different refill models on a large scale in order to continue to build our understanding of how to bring about a significant change most effectively.”

For the trial, Unilever is partnering with circular economy experts Beauty Kitchen’s Return•Refill•Repeat, who designed the refillable and reusable stainless-steel and plastic free bottles to track the lifecycle of the bottle and number of times it has been used.

The expanded trials form the next step towards Unilever’s waste-related sustainability goals, which include targets to cut its use of virgin plastic in half by 2025 and to collect and process more plastic packaging than it sells.  Earlier this year, the company announced a $15 million investment in Closed Loop Partners’ Leadership fund that is working to increase recycling and keep valuable materials in the circular economy, and out of landfills, as well as new plans to convert its toothpaste portfolio to recyclable tubes by 2025. Just last week, the company introduced new paper-based packaging for laundry and hair care products.

Jo-Anne Chidley, Co-Founder of Return•Refill•Repeat said:

“Our goal is to democratize the circular economy, using Cradle to Cradle design, to work with businesses like Unilever to give consumers access to more sustainable products. By designing packaging to be circular and smart alongside advanced Refill and Return Stations, we are making it accessible for consumers to reduce their plastic consumption, track their impact, and change their behaviour from one of consuming packaging to reusing it.”

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