Unilever has joined forces with Indonesia’s Saruga packaging-free store in Bintaro to launch its biggest product refillery yet.

From the middle of March, consumers will be able to shop for 11 of Unilever’s brands, buying as much or as little of the product as they want, using their own containers.

The list of products on offer at the pilot refill station include Home Care brands Rinso, Molto, Sunlight and Super Pell; Beauty & Personal Care brands Lifebuoy, Clear, Dove, Sunsilk,TRESemmé and Love Beauty and Planet; and Indonesia’s home-grown sweet soy sauce, Bango.

Cutting plastic use through innovation and education

Indonesia is home to 267 million people scattered across more than 17,000 islands. It’s estimated that it produces 25,000 tons of plastic waste each day, with 20% of that ending up in rivers and coastal waters.

Increasing public awareness of the environmental impact of waste has seen the Indonesian government launch its ‘Gerakan Indonesia Bersih’ or ‘Clean Indonesia Movement’ to familiarise people with its waste management programme.

It has also created a plastic waste reduction map, setting a deadline of 2029 for manufacturers to reduce waste arising from their products and packaging by 30%.

Our refill station aims to provide an alternative for consumers who want to use our products while reducing the use of disposable packaging.

Nurdiana Darus, Head of Corporate Affairs and Sustainability Unilever Indonesia

Creating new business models to reduce plastic use

Pilot schemes such as our in-store refillery which allows shoppers to use their own containers are just one of the business models we are looking at to help us reach our goal of halving our use of virgin plastic.

“Our refill station pilot aims to provide an alternative for consumers who want to use our products while reducing the use of disposable packaging,” says Unilever Indonesia’s Head of Corporate Affairs & Sustainability, Nurdiana Darus.

Refilleries are not only a chance to try to change consumer habits in how they buy goods; if done well, they can also cut greenhouse gas emissions from transportation and packaging production.

Widening consumer choice and a chance to play their part

Public awareness of these environmental benefits, combined with the option to buy the quantity of product they want, large or small, at affordable prices, has led to a growing number of packaging-free and bulk-buy stores throughout Indonesia.

Ujang Solihin Sidik from the Ministry of Environment and Forestry, who works on policies associated with waste from goods and packaging says “we highly appreciate the collaboration carried out by Unilever and Saruga”.

“We hope piloting this new alternative business model that is more sustainable and environmentally friendly will be a good learning process for all stakeholders,” Nurdiana adds.

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