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Product packaging is due for a major disruption. Yep. Product packaging. It's not a flashy topic, but circular design products have the potential to solve major environmental issues.
You may have heard the term circular economy. It sounds a little intimidating, but the core boils down to keeping raw materials in use. A circular economy product stays inside a closed loop. In a closed loop, there is no waste. Today, most products are designed to be thrown away. Circular design products are designed to reduce and ultimately eliminate waste.
What is a circular design product?
A circular design product is designed to use less raw materials and reduce its impact on the supply chain. It should also use regenerative and renewable materials that do not contribute to pollution and health problems. Cleaning systems like Replenish/Clean Revolution, DS3 Clean, Splosh, and Supernatural are examples of circular design products.
Why does circular design packaging matter?
Plastic packaging made up 52% of plastics thrown away in 2016.”– EarthyDay.org
About 35 billion plastic bottles are thrown away each year in the United States. Most bottles are shipped from other countries. After a short use, they are shipped away to be recycled and thrown away in other countries. Most end up as waste in landfills. Some end up in the ocean. Much of this waste can be eliminated using circular product design.
Clean Revolution products
The Clean Revolution Starter Kit comes with one bottle and one concentrate pod, which makes six bottles of cleaning solution. Instead of multiple spray bottles that contain 90% water, one container can be refilled over and over again. Here's how the system works:
- Attach the pod of concentrate to the spray bottle.
- Push down on the pod of concentrate into the bottle to the fill line.
- Add water to the fill line.
- Now you’re ready to clean.
- Push down on the refill pod and add water when the bottle is empty.
- Add a new concentrate when you’ve squeezed out the last drop.
- Recycle the empty pods of concentrate.
There you have it. Less packaging, same effect. Buy Clean Revolution* on Amazon.
How does the circular design used by Clean Revolution help the environment?
The Clean Revolution system reduces plastic, energy, and pollution by 80-90% according to the company. Here's how the circular design solves two major environmental issues:
Plastic waste – Most plastic is only used for a short time then recycled or thrown away. Although recycling is better than landfills, it's not enough. Plus, only about 23% of plastic bottles are recycled, according to EarthyDay.org. The only long term solution is to reduce the amount of plastic we use.
Transportation – Most of that plastic is also filled with water. All those packaging materials add up to a lot of space on shipping containers and trucks.
Today, ships contribute to about 3% of global CO2 each year according to the International Council on Clean Transportation. The emissions from the supply chain necessary to distribute products contribute to pollution and climate change. When you buy a concentrate and then add water at home, it reduces the amount of space and weight that would otherwise be used on ships and in trucks.
Other circular design products that reduce packaging waste
DS3 Clean by Proctor & Gamble
Procter & Gamble is testing a new brand called DS3 Clean. They use a "spun fiber technology" to give you tablets of soap, detergent, and even shampoo. There are no plastic bottles. To use the product you just add water according to DS3 Clean. It's not widely available yet.
The circular business model
Splosh.com and Supernatural.com offer cleaning products similar to Replenish, but they use a different business model. Instead of buying the cleaning product on Amazon or at the grocery store, you subscribe to their service. You begin with a starter kit that arrives in the mail. Then you order refills via an appl
- Subscribe and get the starter kit. It contains bottles full of cleaning solution.
- Order refills using an app.
- Refills come in a cardboard box designed to fit inside a standard mailbox. Smaller boxes and less packaging reduces space in the supply chain.
- Splosh bottles are designed to be used for life. If the bottles or caps break Splosh replaces them for free. Increasing product life is essential for getting rid of waste.
- The cleaning solution is made of mostly natural ingredients. However, synthetic materials are also used. As mentioned in previous posts, safe synthetics are a good choice for maximum efficiency and safety.
- Splosh is currently only available in the UK.
- The starter kit comes with four re-useable glass spray bottles and four vials of cleaning concentrate.
- You buy the concentrate refills as necessary on their website.
- Supernatural is available in the United States.
- There are lots of naked people on their website. I'll let you take that as a heads up or a warning depending on how you feel about pictures of naked people hugging trees.
Circular design could revolutionize the way we look at sustainable packaging
It's not just soap and cleaning products that contain almost all water and packaging. The same goes for shampoo, conditioner, and lotions. Even food packaging can be improved. Think of all that juice made from concentrate. In the next few years, we may see a big change in how our favorite products are packaged.
Minimal packaging not only wastes less raw materials like plastic and the cardboard boxes they often come in, but they also minimize the space they need within the entire supply chain. That could have a real impact on today's biggest environmental issues.