Packaging can be minimized by concentrating the product, thereby reducing the packaging size needed and the transport greenhouse gas emissions. Rethinking products like this usually maintains or even improves the user experience. Examples include switching beverages, shampoo, or cleaning products to concentrated formulas (1).
At a glance
Companies can reduce packaging volume and transport/storage costs by adjusting product formulation to remove water content.
Consumer acceptance and adoption is important because concentrated products may require different usage and/or shopping behavior. Combine the shift to concentrated products with communication about enhanced consumer convenience, such as less weight to carry, less-frequently products purchases, and cost savings thanks to reduced price per unit of end-product.
Design appealing, custom size packaging to ensure that the shape and size of the packaging matches the product while remaining attractive for consumers and standing out on the shelf despite taking up less space.
Where to start
Beauty, cleaning, and personal products with high water content can often be sold as concentrates. These include shampoo, washing or cleaning liquid, detergent, and mouthwash, among others.
Beverages with a high water content, such as lemonade, can be sold as a syrup or powder.
Current applicability per plastic type
Note: High in this instance implies the solution is highly applicable to the plastic type. Medium indicates potential to apply this solution to the relevant plastic type in some cases. Low implies major barriers and, generally speaking, this solution cannot be used in conjunction with the plastic type.
Examples and case studies
Many examples of successful reuse programs for plastic packaging are currently from outside the U.S. However, more U.S. case studies are emerging and will be included in the future. The following are used for general information and illustrative purposes and do not reflect a preference of or an endorsement by The Recycling Partnership or our affiliates or vendors.
doTERRA On Guard Cleaner Concentrate (USA): This multi-purpose cleaner requires just 2 to 3 tablespoons to be mixed with 24 ounces of water, leading to a 96% packaging reduction compared to non-concentrated all-purpose cleaners (Link).
L’Oréal Professional pro classics concentrated shampoo (globally): A 1.5-liter bottle of this concentrated shampoo is equivalent to 15 liters of conventional shampoo. (Link)
One Drop Only mouthwash concentrate (Europe): One drop in 15 milliliters of water provides protection for the mouth and throat. (Link)
Minute Maid Lemonade: A frozen concentrate made from real lemons in a can; 12-ounce can be mixed with water to make 64 ounces of lemonade. (Link)
Reports and References
(1) Ellen MacArthur Foundation: Upstream Innovation. A guide to packaging solutions. (Link)