OpenIDEO is an open innovation platform. Join our global community to solve big challenges for social good. Sign Up / Login or Learn more

Collapsible, easy to wash refill container

Compact when empty, easily cleaned with a range of casing and dispenser options, to conveniently replace throwaway sachets and bottles.

Photo of Eleanor
2 2

Written by

A refillable flexible container, light weight and compact when empty, with a wide mouth to make it easy to keep clean. A range of optional cases and lids will provide a range of dispensing options for varying uses and needs. 

The containers could be made from recycled plastics and with a collection point (and discount incentive) at the point of sale for worn-out containers, all plastic used to produce them could then be recycled by the manufacturers.

This container would reduce the need for disposable containers for people on the go, such as cyclists, who want to keep the bulk and weight of what they carry minimal. It could also be developed for shoppers wanting to keep what they carry to the shops minimal if their journey is tied in with other activities and tasks.

Idea Title


Where are you / your team located?

Sussex, UK

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

The proposed refill container can be used for a variety of liquids and the wide mouth makes it easily cleaned and therefore hygienic. It can also be produced in a range of sizes for different users needs, so can conveniently replace existing disposable liquid packaging. The container can be used to reliably transport drinks/ liquid food products when on the go, and is conveniently compact when empty to make it easily brought home for reuse. Worn out containers can be returned to be recycled.

Which use cases does your Idea apply to?

The container meets the needs of cyclists to transport liquids and gels, who aim to keep their weight and bulk down whilst travelling. The container design would also be suitable for shoppers who find it inconvenient transporting bulky containers to the shops to refill, especially if shopping after other activities and on foot/ bicycle. This container could be used for a huge variety of liquid products. Shoppers would also be able to choose how much product they purchase, reducing waste/cost.

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

Anywhere that cycling is done as a leisure activity, with an initial focus on Europe and the USA, but also for any area where refill purchases are made possible, and there is a want for compact containers.

How do you envision scaling up your Idea?

The next step will be further research and prototyping. The product requires further plastic products being produced, which goes against the aim of reducing plastic, however recycled plastic could be used for their manufacture and a collection point at the point of sale (with a money off incentive for customers) could support warn-out bottles being recycled back in to new ones. Similar products exist, marketed as refillable water bottles.

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 how becoming a Top Idea and working with the Think Beyond Plastics Accelerator Program will help to accelerate your solution.

Becoming a Top Idea and working with the Think Beyond Plastics Accelerator Program will enable me to dedicate time, and supply support to develop my idea further. The idea of the product was initiated by thinking about ways to encourage consumer demand for refill stations by making it more convenient for shoppers to bring empty containers to the store with them. I would like to develop the project in conjunction with promoting the idea of refilling in shops, and encourage the take up by stores.

Please describe from where your Idea emerged

Set a 'Design Innovation' project brief at university I decided to take on the challenge of trying to increase user demand for access to refills. At the time of conception a store specialising in refills had opened nearby and I had been aware of Ecover refill stations for some time. A point of resistance for consumers seemed to be transporting the empty containers to the shops, but with reusable bags rapidly catching on I thought a collapsible and therefore compact container would improve this.

Tell us about your work experience

I have a background in design and will begin studying an MA in Sustainable Design from September. I have experience working with a range of materials and some commercial manufacturing knowledge.


Join the conversation:

Photo of Nan Harris

Another great idea for reusable ....we can see these on our carts. Take a look at Waterstop Carts and our collapsible, reusable bottles.

Photo of OpenIDEO

Hi Eleanor,

The Ideas Phase of the challenge closes TONIGHT at 11:30 p.m. PT. Your post is currently unpublished, in draft mode. In order to be eligible for evaluation, your post must be published on the platform.

We'd love to have it be included in the challenge. You can publish it by hitting the "Publish" button at the top of your post. You can also update your post by clicking on the "Edit Contribution" on top. Thanks!