Every single year, the world produces 300 million tonnes of plastic waste—that’s the same weight of the global human population combined. Much of it comes from our packaging, from single-use bottles to plastic wrap and sachets. Almost every product we buy, from food to household goods, comes in disposable packaging. But even awareness of sustainability grows, circular options haven’t really taken off—and one of the biggest reasons why is convenience.
Now, there’s a new crop of companies tackling this very problem. They’re making refillable groceries widespread by delivering them in renewable energy-powered vehicles or bikes, eliminating the time and convenience excuse when shoppers don’t choose the reusable route. Let’s take a look at these innovative startups hailing from all over the world, who are tackling excess packaging and shaping up what the future of grocery could look like.
1. Refillable (India)
Refillable is an Indian startup helping consumers pay for the product, instead of the packaging. Headquartered in Mumbai, the company runs a portable convenience store, inspired by the milkman model, for household cleaning products. Instead of running to the shops and buying products in single-use plastic packaging, shoppers can browse through Refillable’s range, from all-purpose cleaners to detergents, and get them delivered—and if you need more in the future, simply refill the container at one of the firm’s mobile stations.
2. Algramo (Chile)
Based in Santiago, Algramo has kickstarted the refill revolution in Chile and even brought it over to the U.S. recently. As the company’s name suggests—it means “by the gram”—Algramo allows customers to order exactly what they need on its platform before collecting their products with their own containers at their doorstep (delivered via electric tricycles) or a nearby in-store vending machine. The firm boasts an impressive range of products, from pet food to laundry detergent and kitchen staples, and it’s already partnered up CPG majors like Unilever as part of its mission to make refill an option everywhere.
3. Siklus (Indonesia)
Over in Indonesia, Siklus wants to solve plastic waste and make it cheaper for shoppers to choose packaging-free. By delivering groceries to consumers without any packaging, which the firm estimates account for 15% of the product cost, Siklus wants “everyone to win”. Since last year, the startup has been running an app that allows Indonesians to order their cleaning and sanitary products. Then, Siklus sends their mobile refill bikes to their doorstep, where they can pick up products with reusable containers or bottles—and enjoy up to 30% off your bill compared to a trip to the store.
4. Refillvan (UK)
Refillvan is a British company helping U.K. consumers get their plastic-free groceries. Based in Northamptonshire, the firm sells everything from kitchen staples like flour, pasta, nuts, and seeds, to tea and coffee and even personal care and beauty products—all without packaging. Serving residents across the North Northamptonshire region, customers can simply order what they need on Refillvan’s website and choose whether they want to collect their groceries with their own containers or go just downstairs with their bottles and bags by opting for its home delivery service.
Lead image courtesy of Algramo.