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Refillable Reusable dispenser (RRD)

Refillable reusable dispenser is a packaging and delivery system that will reduce plastic footprint from manufacturers to consumers.

Photo of Jocelyne

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This idea when implimented from manufacturer to the consumer will drastically reduce plastic foot print in the world and ultimately eradicate the use of small plastic bottles and one off sachets. 

The refillable reusable dispenser is a packaging large enough to be sorted out as recyclable plastic, it will be designed in a way that each product packaged in it will be dispenced automatically according to the quantity imputed either in mils, cl, kg and liter. 

RRD will be designed to Dispense Liquid and powdered products such as liquid soap, shampoo, sauce, tomato paste, powdered detergent, powdered sugar, powdered milk, etc.

How it works:

Manufacturers will package in bulk, products they were supposed to packags in small plastic bottles and sachets in one refillable reusable dispensers and distribute to grocery stores, supermarkets, restaurants, hotels etc. The refillable dispensers will then be taken back to the factory after the contents of the dispenser has been dispensed to consumers. The dispensers will be washed and reused by the manufacturer to package and distribute again. 

This idea also offers manufacturers new line of business of manufacturing customized reusable containers for any product they are dispensing and market it to consumers.

This will reduce the cost of production for the manufacturers, reduce their plastic footprint in the world, open a new line of business and ultimately eradicate small plastic bottles and one off sachets. 

A reward system will be put in place to encourage consumers to purchase the products they need from the dispense stations which will also encourage them to reuse their containers for purchases. 

The reward system that will mostly appeal to consumers is the buy more pay less. this system will encourage a consumer to reuse their containers if they pay less for refilling. e.g:- if 50ml sells for $1, 500ml will sell for $4 if you refill with reusable container. 

There will be a shift in the manufacturing industry whereby manufacturing industries will be encouraged to  adopt the RRD method. The next step will be to sensitize these companies on the importance of reducing their plastic footprint by re-packaging with RRD. This will be a disruption to the normal way of packaging. Consumers will also be made aware of the dangers of small plastic containers and one off sachets but first, if the manufacturing companies adopt the idea, consumers are most likely to follow suite. 

This idea will also give local persons business opportunity where RRD will be installed in kiosks as dispense stations, this will make it more accessible to the local population ( inspired by Bettina Fliegel). After dispensing, the local station owner either goes to the bigger market to drop the dispenser in exchange for a filled one or the manufacturers picks up the empty dispenser and drops a filled one at the dispense station. 

There will also be a change in the society, where end users will have to change their attitude towards shopping, refill instead of buying products in non recyclable packaging. 


Idea Title

Refillable, Reusable Dispenser (RRD)

Company / Organization Name

Diamond Elixir Enterprises

Where are you / your team located?

Nigeria

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

The contents of 1,000 small plastic bottles and sachets are packaged in a Refillable reusable dispensers and the dispenser can be reused 4 times or more, reducing 5000 small plastic bottles and sachets into one refillable reusable dispenser plus the dispenser can be recycled. If a dispenser is stationed in 50 stores in one state, dispensing one product, that will be 1000 small plastic bottles/sachets × 50 =50,000 × 4 =200,000 small plastic bottles and sachet footprint removed

Which use cases does your Idea apply to?

It relates to the Use cases in case 1 "single-use sachet for liquid consumer products."

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

My idea can be replicated anywhere in the world, but the plan is to start up in Nigeria which is in West Africa.

How do you envision scaling up your Idea?

First, we introduce the refillable reusable dispensers (RRD) to manufacturers, explain the benefits of using them for packaging as it will cut cost of production and reduce their plastic footprint. When the manufacturer buys the idea of packaging with RRD, introducing it to the market becomes easier. Getting consumers to change to refilling can be challenging but most manufacturing companies have loyal customers who will patronize the dispense stations if a reward system is attached refilling.

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 getting the opportunity to work with the new plastic economy accelerator programe will help my idea take the next leap which includes designing the RRD with the above mentioned specifications, build my experience and capacity and also access to funding. Success will be defined as when 5 out of the top manufacturing companies adopt the Refillable reusable dispensers as the packaging method for at least one of their products.

Please describe from where your Idea emerged

This idea emerged from personal observation and research. The vending machine was an inspiration for me to come up with the Refillable reusable dispensers RRD.

Tell us about your work experience

I am a social entrepreneur and a computer science graduate. Am the chief executive officer of Diamond Elixir Enterprises, a powdered detergent manufacturing company.

Please describe your legal and organizational structure

Diamond Elixir Enterprises is registered under Corporate Affairs Commission CAC Nigeria.

28 comments

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Spam
Photo of Kate Rushton
Team

Hi Jocelyne,

I am tagging some people here who might be interested in the dispenser - Brian Bauer whose idea Sustainable Sachet Replacement for Bottom of the Pyramid Families that Stops the Flow of Plastic Waste While Increasing Disposable Incomes is very in line with yours. Brian is one of the people behind Algramo with vending machines for bulk staples. Brian, Jocelyn is the chief executive officer of Diamond Elixir Enterprises, a powdered detergent manufacturing company.

Spam
Photo of Kate Rushton
Team

Also, I think Alan Somerfield with Portion Pod might be interested in this idea.

Spam
Photo of Brian Bauer
Team

Kate Rushton Thanks for the suggestion.

Jocelyn, I would be curious to hear your perspective on if a business model like Algramo's is viable where you market your detergent products. We started out with powdered detergent and more recently moved into liquid detergent. The demand for our liquid detergent has been very robust. Curious to hear your thoughts.

Spam
Photo of Jocelyne
Team

Read through his idea and it is in line with my idea. Thank you.

Spam
Photo of Jocelyne
Team

@Brian Bauer Yes your business model is viable here but has not been implemented which is why am working on it. Seeing that Algramo is picking up momentum is inspiring. Being that 60% of Nigerians live below $5 a day, any product distribution model that will cut cost of living will be welcomed. I applaud your model for the social impact it has in your community.
Can you give a little insight on the challenges you faced when you first started implementation and how you overcame it. Secondly, can you tell me why the liquid soap's demand is more robust that the powdered detergent?

Spam
Photo of Brian Bauer
Team

Jocelyne Cool, interesting to hear your working on a similar vending machine idea. Since we both work with BoP consumers I suspect we would share a lot of similar challenges, with some cultural factors that add some complexity. On the note of working/marketing products to BoP consumers, I recently took a really informative free course on marketing to the BoP. It was developed by Acumen-if you are (or anyone else is) interested, there is a new offering of this course in October-http://www.plusacumen.org/courses/marketing-bop.

In regards to recommendations for vending machines, I would recommend developing a smaller sized, lower cost vending machine that is very customized to the type of store that will be selling your product and slowly developed the machine with lots of in the field feedback from your storekeepers-Algramo is very focused on maximizing attention/relationship building we provide with our storekeepers and this has helped us with our growth and social impact. If your not focused on rapid growth and a large network of stores the machines can be managed without software and complex technology. But if you want to have a large network (beyond several hundred) and optimize how much product you can move technology can really accelerate your potential. Lastly, if your company has significant socio-environmental benefits that are easy to quantify there are a lot of grants and alternative financing options that can provide non-dilutive capital to help develop your business.

For Algramo, in Chile, we noticed significantly more demand for our liquid detergent, as compared to powder detergent. But there could be cultural factors that drive this demand that might not be in play in your market. Lastly, a major source of eutrophication (when freshwater gets grossly over grown with weeds and algae) is phosphorus from laundry detergents. A lot of people don't realize this and when a lot of people use phosphate based detergents it can have HUGE environmental impacts on freshwater ecosystems. Perhaps you are aware of this, if not, I would highly encourage you to seek out phosphate free detergents they don't really cost more, they clean just as good and you can market your product as eco-friendly.

Best of luck with your business!

Spam
Photo of Jocelyne
Team

Hello Brian
I am currently working on a simplified dispenser for my powdered and liquid detergent that will be installed in road side kiosk and stalls especially in low income areas. This way the product is affordable for them and also reduce the plastic waste.

We are also working towards changing to a 100% phosphorus free detergent by replacing phosphate based chemical with zeolite. It might be cheap to produce phosphate free detergent in chile but it is a bit expensive being that the sourcing and purchasing is expensive.

You made mention of grants and alternate funding opportunities for my company if it significant socio-enviromental benefit, can give me some examples or link to these opportunities.

Best of luck too.

Spam
Photo of Brian Bauer
Team

Hi Jocelyne,
Interesting to hear you are bringing this idea to market in another region-I think you said you were in Nigeria? I have not worked with any companies in Africa, so anytime I see African grant opportunities, I tend to just skip over them. As well, as you can imagine, grants can vary a lot-from $5k into the millions. Really, the size of the grant you should seek depends on the size of your company, your companies past performance, how well you measure your impact (environmental and social) and the scale of the objectives you wish to achieve. Since I don't know the specifics of your company, it is hard for me to guess what level of grant is best suited to you. In addition to grants there are also impact investors who can give you low cost access to capital if you have optimal social/environmental benefits. A couple ideas I would suggest is for grants look at the USAID Development Innovation Ventures (DIV). For access to lower cost capital Acumen is one of the best. But just google 'Africa grant opportunities' or 'social impact investment' and both of these will bring up lots of potential options.

Congrats on moving towards phosphorus free detergents! Best of luck with your business!

Spam
Photo of Jocelyne
Team

Thank you for the suggestions Brian, am on it and yes am from and implementing it in Nigeria.
My company is relatively very young but we have made social and economic impacts that are measurable. For example, we have trained 40 rural women and have made 15 of them our local off gamers in 5 rural communities. With the Red, we can empower more women and youths which will also increase our turnover.

Spam
Photo of Brian Bauer
Team

Hi Jocelyne,
Focusing on benefiting women creates significant social impact and there are a lot of foundations and grants that value businesses that increase gender inequality. If it works well for your business, it might be a wise strategy to focus on working with women. Another thing that can clarify your impact and attract investors is aligning your business with the UN Sustainable Development Goals.

Spam
Photo of Jocelyne
Team

Hi Brian
My business is aligned with SDGs 8 ( decent work and economic growth), 9 (industry, innovation and infrastructure), 10 (reduced inequality) and 13 (climate action) .
We focus on working with women and youth, depending on the work available at the time and they both get the capacity building Trainings that we provide for them.

Thank you Brian for the insights, looking forward to more.

Spam
Photo of Lauren Ito
Team

Hi Jocelyne !

Congratulations on being the featured contribution for the Ideas Phase! Please look at the ideas homepage to see your feature.

Spam
Photo of Jocelyne
Team

Hi Lauren

Am super excited that my idea is out there, and an idea is worth nothing on the shelf but it's worth a lot more when it's out there.

looking forward to more contributions to this idea

Jocelyne

Spam
Photo of Lauren Ito
Team

Jocelyne  Excited about the ways in which your idea is developing!

What would it take for this idea to integrate at the scale of implementation you are aiming for? Drawing on your expertise from the powdered detergent manufacturing industry, how might RRD be amore cost-effective solution than traditional purchasing habits?

Spam
Photo of Jocelyne
Team

Hi Lauren

The scale with which it will be implemented will determine what will be needed. I don't know exactly what it will take, but what i do know is that
1) it's going to need sensitizing the public on the negative effects of plastic waste especially here in Nigeria.
2) We will need to get manufacturers on board with the idea by pointing out the benefits, new businesses that will be created and new target market that will be reached.
3) The idea will need funding for implementation.
As this idea evolves, i begin to see the advantage of it and also the challenges it will encounter.
One of the challenges will be how to get a home maker who buys 12 one off sachets of 30g detergent ( from my experience as a detergent manufacturer) that will be used 12 times in one week to buy the same 360g in one recyclable container. This is a challenge because first it will mean change in shopping attitude and secondly change in usage attitude.
The challenge for the end user will be how to use 360g product 12 times as opposed to the 12 30g which is easier.
I believe that to make it cost effective and easier to use will be to create a refilling model where a customized company recyclable container will be sold with the content to the end user the first time but the container will be used for refilling, the container will have measurement markers so they can manage usage and discount for each refill after the first purchase. e.g if 30g is $.50 and she buys the 12 sachets for $6, the customer buys the same 360g in a marked container for the first time for $6 but for refill, the same 360g will be sold for $5.
I don'tknow if this makes sense but am looking forward to more contributions on this.

Spam
Photo of Brian Bauer
Team

Hi Jocelyne,
I have a suggestion. You said your customers have an income of ~$5/day. We find our customers with a similar income level have volatile incomes and it can be a challenge to be forced to buy higher volumes of products. So what about setting a price per gram/ml with a minimum economic cost equal to a sachet. If the customer buys a sachet cost of detergent but get 50%, 100% maybe 200% more detergent the value proposition is extremely clear. As well, I would have a couple different sized reusable containers, of great importance for your lowest income consumers is having a really small container, well under 500g/ml. I hope you find this idea useful.

Spam
Photo of Jocelyne
Team

Hi Brian
The really small container is what we are trying to eradicate. The customized reusable containers will be for 500g content and above irrespective of quantity they want to purchase. Being that our target market are low income earners that live with -$2 a day, we package in sachets of 120g for N50($.15) and 50g for N20($??). With the RRD and the customized reusable container, they can get 180g for N50($.15) and the bigger quantity they buy, the cheaper it gets. E.g. if the buy up to 500g they get 30%discount for reusing th product customized container.
Please give feedback on this, am still trying to refine the strategy.
Thanks Brian.

Spam
Photo of Kate Rushton
Team

Hi Jocelyne,

I saw this reusable design for packaging for single use shampoo, shower gel etc. - https://www.yankodesign.com/2010/08/04/good-things-in-small-packages-2/ - I thought it might interest you.

Spam
Photo of Jocelyne
Team

Interesting packaging model.

Spam
Photo of Julie
Team

I read through the zero waste community on facebook, that in New Zealand they have milk dispensers around the country... maybe look into how its working out

Spam
Photo of Bettina Fliegel
Team

Hi Jocelyne.
Great idea! Also I wonder if some items, shampoo, soap, and laundry soap as examples, might be sold in aliquots via refillable dispensers inside vending machines locally in neighborhoods, to make them extremely accessible to users for daily use? Perhaps maintaining/managing a vending machine could become a business opportunity for a local person and that person goes to a store to refill the large dispenser when needed?

Looking forward to seeing how your idea develops!

Spam
Photo of Jocelyne
Team

Hi Bettina
Am glad you reached out. The items you mentioned can be dispensed and more items too.
The RRD can be installed anywhere and just like you said, managing it could be a source of business opportunity for a local person.
Will update my idea with this, thanks for the contribution

Jocelyne

Spam
Photo of Bettina Fliegel
Team

Hi Jocelyne.
Sure. Happy to have the conversation and contribute!
If locals do become part of the business model as kiosk managers could another aspect of their work be to promote the business to neighbors?
Also I wonder if visual information about the problem of small plastics polluting the ocean displayed on the kiosk, and how this model, RRD, becomes part of a solution to combat this might capture attention, educate, and nudge users to use this model if cost is the same or less?

Did you see this example of a new business model shared on the Challenge Brief page? I found it interesting and inspiring!
https://www.ellenmacarthurfoundation.org/case-studies/how-re-thinking-the-business-model-for-cleaning-products-can-influence-design
https://challenges.openideo.com/challenge/circular-design/brief

Spam
Photo of Jocelyne
Team

That is absolutely right, before the RRDs will be installed in roadside kiosks, they will be mass sensitization coupled with brand loyalty from customers will move the idea in the right direction. During the sensitization, visual aids will definitely be used so everyone can understand.
Imagine a RRD dispensing splosh cleaning products, with the starter pack, the end user can always go back to the dispense station to refill rather than go through the mail delivery process. It will also cut cost for the company because there will be no need for the sachets anymore.

Spam
Photo of Bettina Fliegel
Team

I was wondering about that in the Splosh model. They mentioned sachets. I looked at their website now which shows the sachets in the mailing box. It says they can be mailed back for refilling and ultimately they are used to make other products, so I guess they eliminate waste of these sachets as long as they receive them back. I like eliminating them totally in the RRD model. One thing that may be an issue from Case Study 1 in terms of getting starter packs to people is cost. The mother in Case 1 indicates that she buys in small amounts daily because she is unable to save up to buy in bulk. How can this lack of any cushion in terms of cash flow be resolved in terms of need to buy a starter pack?

Spam
Photo of Benoit
Team

Hi Jocelyne 
Here is a French company that designed a similar concept : http://www.3jd.fr
Another one, with a more rudimentary approach : http://www.jeanbouteille.fr
There might be other ones... Congratulations and good luck on your endeavors !

Spam
Photo of Kate Rushton
Team

Hi Jocelyne!

It is great to have you in the challenge and your experience in the detergents industry is incredibly interesting!

It would be interesting to see a diagram of how everyone interacts with the dispensers: the customers, manufacturers, shop workers etc. and how the current system would have to change to adopt this. Would the customers come in small containers for the products e.g. replacing non reusable small plastic sachets in Senegal ? What sort of incentive would motivate someone to choose over a sachet? Are there economic, societal, or infrastructural shifts need to occur for your idea to be implemented at scale?

I look forward to seeing how your idea develops. What are the next steps for the development of your idea? Are there certain types of people you are keen to receive feedback from or potentially collaborate with?


Also, are you on LinkedIn? We have a Circular Design Guide Group - https://www.linkedin.com/groups/8585051?

This group is about design & the circular economy. It's run jointly by IDEO and the Ellen MacArthur Foundation. It currently has over 6 thousand members.

Spam
Photo of Jocelyne
Team

Hello kate,
Thank you for the feedback, i updated my idea and i addressed the points you made.
There will definitely be a very visible shift in the manufacturing industry if these idea is adopted and also in consumers attitude towards reusing containers.