Unilever, Kao Corp., and Uni Devise Unique Reusable Body-Care Packaging Systems

Sustainability, ease of use, elegance, guaranteed lifetime use, and whimsical product dispensing are just some of the features found in four new reusable packaging systems for body care.


Quick hits:

  • Reusable packaging for household cleaning and personal care products has gained momentum over the last several years.
  • New packaging for Dove Beauty Wash includes a refillable, reusable bottle made from either aluminum or recycled high-density polyethylene to meet consumers’ preferences, and a concentrate refill in a rigid plastic bottle with custom cap that allows for mess-free dispensing.
  • Kao Corp. has introduced two new reusable systems: one, for hand and body wash, that features a rigid refill bottle and flexible pouch refill, and the other, for body lotion, that includes a decorative holder that houses a pouch refill.
  • New brand Uni has delivered an elegant, upscale packaging system for its line of hand, body, and hair care products that was designed by renowned creative director Marc Atlan. The system features a reusable, aluminum shell that holds aluminum bottles of product that are also reusable.

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   Read the transcript below:

Hello, this is Anne Marie Mohan, Senior Editor with Packaging World magazine. In this episode of Take Five, I’d like to share with you four new reusable packaging systems recently launched by three body-care brands.

As we’ve been reporting in Packaging World, there’s been a flood of innovation around reusable and refillable packaging over the last few years. Most of these products have been in the household cleaning and personal care markets. These applications are a good fit, as the packaging doesn’t require food-contact certification. These products also lend themselves well to concentrated formulations, which require less packaging.

That’s the case with Unilever’s new packaging system for its Dove Body Wash. The solution includes a 16-oz reusable, refillable bottle and a small, 4-oz high-density polyethylene bottle of body-wash concentrate. Dove offers two options for the bottle: one made from aluminum, and one made of recycled high-density polyethylene. The aluminum bottle is perfect for consumers who want to reduce their use of plastic, but it does cost a bit more. Both bottles have been manufactured to be durable for reuse and carry Dove’s lifetime guarantee of “buy once, refill for life.”

Regarding the concentrate bottle, it’s quite interesting in the way it’s been designed to reduce the mess typically associated with refilling a reusable bottle. To use the concentrate, the consumer twists the refill bottle by its proprietary Quick Connect Cap onto the neck of the reusable bottle until they hear a “click.” This indicates the refill is open and ready to dispense. The consumer then squeezes the contents into the bottle, fills the rest of the bottle with water, shakes the contents to mix, and screws on the reusable pump dispenser.

The system, with the aluminum bottle, is said to reduce plastic by 50% after two refills versus Dove’s standard plastic bottle. The rHDPE bottle reduces plastic by 50% after four refills. In addition, the system results in 80% less water shipped per refill and 21% fewer greenhouse gas emissions from manufacturing over the course of a year.

The next innovation comes from Kao Corporation and comprises two new reusable packaging systems under its MyKirei brand. For its hand and body wash products, Kao has designed a reusable, HDPE bottle with pump dispenser, in 20.3-oz and 8.5-oz sizes, respectively. Both are paired with a durable, one-hand pump dispenser that offers the added benefit of inclusiveness for the differently-abled. Another unique aspect of the pump dispenser for the hand wash is that it’s designed in such a way that the soap is dispensed either in the shape of a flower or a paw print, depending on the product. The bottles are manufactured to be reused up to 100 times. Refills are packaged in a flexible stand-up pouch that’s said to reduce plastic by more than 85% versus rigid packaging.

MyKirei’s new lotion product uses a different reuse solution in the form of a decorative, polypropylene holder. The column-shaped Eco-Holder holds an 11.5-oz flexible pouch refill and is available in two designs, decorated by well-known Japanese artists. Empty refill pouches for all MyKirei products can be sent to TerraCycle for recycling.

The last product I’d like to share with you is a great example of how sophisticated and elegant some of the new reusable packaging systems have become. It’s from a new company called Uni, which offers a line of high-performance unisex hand, body, and hair care products.

In an interview with company founder Alexandra Keating, she shared with me that as a native of Australia, she’s deeply protective of the oceans, which she explained are being ravaged not only by plastic pollution, but also by the toxic ingredients found in traditional beauty-care products. After trying a number green products in the body-care market, Keating said she found them to be lacking in functionality and performance, as well as in design. Her response was to formulate effective body and hair care products that are safe for people and marine environments, in elegant, reusable packaging. 

To design the system, Keating worked with renowned creative director Marc Atlan. Atlan is known for his work with luxury products such as Prada, Dior, and Tom Ford. For Uni, he created a modular, two-component system, made up of an outer reusable-shell dispenser constructed of aluminum and a 12.75-oz, 100% recycled-aluminum refill bottle with screw cap that holds the product.

First-time consumers purchase both, removing the cap on the refill bottle and twisting it onto the reusable dispenser for use. When the refill bottle is empty, the consumer ships it back to Uni, using a prepaid label. Subsequently, the consumer only need purchase the standalone refill. Products are available online only.

Atlan describes the packaging design as unique, minimal, and timeless.

That’s all for this edition of Take Five.

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