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Bulk Dispensary for Liquid Products

A one-stop shop retail solution allowing consumers to access different liquid products on an as-needed basis.

Photo of Cindy Yin
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This solution aims to eliminate the waste produced when plastic packets of liquid products are used on an as needed basis. We want to deliver these products to people through a bulk dispensary at their local drug store or convenience store. This will be a one stop shop with these liquid products in bulk, and consumers can bring in small bottles to fill up as much product as they need.

Let's see how this would work in the case of personal hygiene products.

1. Go to the store and purchase bottles from the cashier. This is a one time fee.

2. Bring your bottles to the bulk dispensary section. There will be different containers from which you can pump out soap, shampoo, body wash, toothpaste, etc.

3. Fill up with your bottle with whatever you need, as much as you need.

4. Go to the cashier and pay for your products. Each product is charged by weight.

5. When you run out, bring your bottles back and re-use them by refilling them with whatever you need.

The benefits:

- No more repeat waste from the packaging of liquid packets, since the bottles can be reused again and again

- Suppliers to the store can ship products in bulk instead of in separate packaging, meaning less cost on their end

- The retail store save shelf space because they won't have to display separate packages of products

- Consumers are able to have a one-stop shop for all their needs and can eliminate waste from their lives

Where are you / your team located?

Toronto, Ontario, Canada

How does this Idea redesign unrecyclable small format plastic items that often end up as waste?

This solutions eliminates the small plastic packets of liquid products, by allowing end consumers to re-fill small bottles over and over again to get these products on an as-needed basis.

Which use cases does your Idea apply to?

Case 1: Single-use sachet for liquid consumer products, Sagata

In what geographical context or area does your Idea plan to operate / solve?

Rural locations where consumers cannot afford to buy products in bulk.

How do you envision scaling up your Idea?

This can be implemented at local drugstores and convenience stores. The products involved can be in variety of categories: personal hygiene, cleaning products, food, etc.

At what stage of development is your Idea?

  • Research & Early Testing: You are exploring an idea, gathering inspiration and information needed to test it with real users.

Please describe from where your Idea emerged

From OpenIDEO Toronto Hackathon


Join the conversation:

Photo of Lauren Ito

Hi Cindy Yin 

As Refinement Phase quickly comes to a close in LESS THAN 7 HOURS, I want to remind you that the following must be submitted by tonight, August 31st at 11:30 p.m. Pacific Time.

1. Submit the Refinement Questions Form online that was sent again via email yesterday evening--we have not yet received this from you. These questions are mandatory for Top Ideas consideration, so this should be your first priority in the final stretch.

2. A secondary priority, which is optional, is to update your Refinement Phase post.

If you have any questions, please email

Looking forward to reviewing and celebrating the amazing work you've achieved this Refinement Phase!

Photo of Kate Rushton

Hi Cindy Yin !

There are 7 days left in the refinement phase.

I just want to remind you that the deadline to complete the Refinement Questions via the online submission form is August 31 at 11:30 p.m. Pacific Time.

Photo of Kate Rushton

Hi Cindy!

Welcome to the refinement phase!

There are a few dispensing ideas in the refinement phase. What is unique about your solution?

How do you intend to keep the system safe and tamper-free? How is product integrity ensured without having to use many parallel nozzles which would be expensive?

There is an idea from a previous challenge on financial longevity you might want to check out - It is a great example of rapid and budget prototyping of a product idea to get feedback from the users around some key questions they have about the concept.

What key questions or assumptions do you have about the people who will use Bulk Dispensary in terms of their interactions with the Bulk Dispensor, the reusable containers etc?

How might the OpenIDEO community help you develop your idea?

I just want to remind you that the deadline to complete the Refinement Questions via the online submission form is August 31 at 11:30 p.m. Pacific Time.

Photo of Brian Bauer

Hi Cindy,
Interesting idea! Perhaps I am a bit biased as your idea is very similar to my idea, but I think you bring up a very important and significant opportunity. The company I work with in South America (Algramo) has been distributing via vending machines for about 4 years. We focus our services to low-income neighbourhoods and a key point, or value proposition, of the reusable container being economic savings. But in developed, higher income economies, in addition to the economic savings many customers increasingly value environmental benefits. So I think your idea has great potential.

I would love to hear your thoughts on my project. If you have time, I just submitted my project it is called, "Sustainable Sachet Replacement for Bottom of the Pyramid Families that Stops the Flow of Plastic Waste While Increasing Disposable Incomes". Cheers, Brian

Photo of Kate Rushton

Hi Cindy,

Great to see you in the challenge.

Are you thinking of this use case of Rajata in the challenge -

How would you ensure the bottles were adequately sterilised?
How you thought about how you would maintain product branding?

There are a few articles on the cost factor for small format sachets that might interest you:

Have you seen these ideas around dispensaries - Refillable Reusable dispenser (RRD) and Dispensers ?

If you are on LinkedIn, you might want to check out the Circular Design Guide group - This group is about design & the circular economy. It's run jointly by IDEO and the Ellen MacArthur Foundation.