This blogpost is part of a series that was created to inspire CEOs to become Chief Environmental Officers. Read our other posts on how to rethink packaging, recycling or the product itself.

Since our regular visits to gas stations, we are well aware of how a refill system works. So you don’t have to reinvent the wheel – you only have to figure out how to apply the same solution to the products you distribute.

By offering filling stations and refillable containers to your consumers, you give them the option to have a higher-quality, even personalised packaging. Or they can customise the purchase itself, as they can, for example, mix flavours at will and buy exactly as much of any product as they need. This way your business can improve consumer experience and also save costs, particularly in ​transportation.

If you are a distributor of products – and not a manufacturer – there are still ways you can avoid single use plastic packaging. Think about the amount of single use plastic that goes into your chain of distribution and whether all of it is necessary. 

For example, there are restaurants and cafes that offer durable and refillable designer cups in exchange for a deposit fee. Some cafés also offer smart-cups which double as contactless payment devices – you just hold close to the reader at checkout. With such packaging alternatives, you can not only reduce plastic waste, but also strengthen brand loyalty.

To gather ideas for your product, you can also check out a package free shop. You will be surprised by the wide variety of products that people already happily fill into their own containers: from pasta through cleaning products to cooking oil.

You can also reduce plastic waste by making sure the packaging returns back to you – just like how the UK’s milk bottle system worked back in the old days. Nowadays some cosmetics and food manufacturers already offer such durable packaging materials that – after return and cleaning – can be reused. You can incentivise your customers to return the packaging with a gift or discounts on their next purchase.