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No Packaging Required for Solid (Bar) Shampoos, Soaps and Detergents

The sale of solid bar shampoos, soaps and detergents in areas where single use sachet collection and recycling do not exist.

Photo of Dawne
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In areas where there is no collection or reuse/recycling of single use sachets, solid shampoos, soaps and detergents can be sold to local shopkeepers in slabs and cut into single use sizes for sale. These solid bars can be placed directly into the purchasers shopping bad without any packaging. 

How does this research relate to our Use Cases?

Case #1: Single use sachet for liquid consumer products (Rajata)

What is a provocation or insight that might inspire others during this challenge?

There is no single answer to a problem. Solutions are highly case specific!

Tell us about yourself

I am an environmental engineer. I am completing the MBA in Innovation, Enterprise and the Circular Economy program and am a Schmidt MacArthur Fellow.

8 comments

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Photo of archipleasure

Hi Dawne,

We came upon some articles noting that powder/solid detergents clean just as effectively as liquid ones (This needs to be further explored and corroborated). The only difference is that inexpensive powders/solids don't dissolve as well and can leave a residue. I think informing consumers and debunking the misconception that liquid based products clean better should be addressed. This in turn could support the above idea of using solid and dry products that don't necessarily require waterproof packaging.
We also wonder if breaking down a product into specific quantities and units is a marketing benefit for markets which, in turn, produces waste.

Photo of Rowan

A very simple solution which is essentially a step backwards in invention but a refresh of an innovation. I won't attempt to speak to the chemistry, however I think the marketing of this product as an being "naturally packaged" or something similar would speak to the conscious consumer. Soap is simple, shampoo is simple! Great concept!

Photo of Dawne

Thanks Rowan for the comments. This is very similar to how Lush Cosmetics sell their bar soaps and shampoos so I can't take credit for the idea!

Photo of Isabel Pelaez

But you had the observation!

Photo of Rowan

Innovation is all about the right application for an existing concept!

Photo of Isabel Pelaez

Dawne This is great! I often go to Lush and can't believe I hadn't thought of this option. For places like rural India and South America, it is great... thank you.

Photo of Paul Sharp

This is good.
I would take it furthur.
Do we even need the packaged, liquid versions of these products?
Packaging free, solid soaps have the sustainable advantage in all markets, even where recycling exists.
I wonder how Unilever, one of the market leaders in sachet products, would respond to this?

Photo of Dawne

Great question. I am not sure what the advantages are of liquid (over solid) soaps and shampoos or even if there are any. No packaging means no 'in your face' branding which for many companies is a non-starter (although they could put their branding on the soap itself). Perhaps companies who produce no waste could sell themselves as the 'virtuous company' that cares about the families they sell their products too and their environments.