Reuse - the role of refill pouches

How flexible packaging formats support reusable packaging systems

Pouches are an important format produced by flexible packaging manufacturers. Formats where refill pouches are used to support a reusable bottle system have been around for some time. Frequently encountered at home, for example, is the system for detergents or similar products, where the consumer buys a hand pump bottle in a supermarket and the refills come in the form of flexible pouches. The bottle can be refilled at home, avoiding the occurrence of excess packaging waste.

By supporting refill systems, flexible packaging supports different ways of sustainable production and consumption. There are, of course, some limitations regarding the sensibility of the products taking part in the refill at home formats. Yet, whenever possible, reduced use of materials, as shown above, as well as reduced energy consumption throughout supply chain, can result in a reduced environmental footprint. By being lightweight and having low volume, the energy used for transport and storage is minimised. Its packaging-to-product ratio is outstandingly low, on average 5 to 10 times lower than the alternatives. A science-backed life cycle approach is always helpful to examine the real environmental impacts of a product.

We understand reuse as any operation by which packaging, which has been conceived and designed to accomplish within its life cycle a minimum number of trips or rotations, is refilled or used for the same purpose for which it was conceived, with or without the support of auxiliary products present on the market enabling the packaging to be refilled; such reused packaging will become packaging waste when no longer subject to reuse.

Examples of such systems:

We are looking forward to further launches of a combination of flexible pouches with rigid containers (either aluminium, glass or plastic) in a refill system, helping to save resources.