The great global challenge of diminishing environment impact starts to gain more defined contours with the refillable packaging, among other renewable solutions. The greatest household products companies, the cosmetic, make-up and toilette companies, with its plastic packaging are starting to adhere to the movement on search of solutions of lesser impact to the environment. On the other side packaging suppliers seeks for differentiated technologies and design to attend to this market.  The great winner is the consumer, which are paying less for refills of more sophisticated packaging, minimizing the economic, ecological and even emotional impact, as far as he feels less gilt for damages that its consume can cause to the environment.


“The employed materials should be the cheapest possible aiming a more economic packaging. The most used are the PE and PP easily recyclable. In general the difficults are in producing pieces with fine walls”, says Jefferson Pelissaro, responsible for Ab Plast development area.

Brazil, Natura got ahead of in 1983 when it introduced on the market its refilable packaging for its anise soap, with the concept ecologically sustainable of the 3Rs – reduction, reutilization and recycling.


In practice it raised the packaging life and provided economic advantage for the consumer, which has accepted well the idea. More recent available company’s data confirmed that 19,8% of company’s invoice in 2006 came from refill sales. “And this number is growing, even on the international sales”, says Luciana Villa Nova, Natura´s Packaging Development manager, which constantly stimulates its beauty consulters acting as multipliers of the responsibility concepts socio environmental and conscious consume.


For the company refill coasts stays between 20 and 30% of product’s value. “We calculate the coast of the product, of the packaging, human resources for the industrial process and after the margin. Sometimes it is not cheap and it ends up coasting a little more, but we maintain the 20% coast, because the consumer fells valued”, declares the manager.


For the environment all the gain is always welcome. The refill consumes in media 30% less natural resources then the regular packaging, according to a Natura, which currently has 146 regular products with refillable packaging, among the line Ekos, an international body care products line with actives form Brazilian biodiversity, the make-up lines Natura Diversa and Faces, the bodycare and  also skincare line Erva Doce (anise), among others. The materials goes from recyclable aluminum, jars and screw mugs, tablets eyeshadows and 30% recyclable PET flasks.


According to company’s calculations, corrective foundation refill provides environmental impact 72% less then the regular packaging. The blush refill also has the same reduction. The lipstick impacts 71% less the environment, while on the refill of the eyeshadow duo this reduction is of 68% with aluminum tablets, totally recyclable.


“The ideal situation would be to use recyclable and biodegradable materials. However, the difficulty of the biopolymers – polymers of vegetal origin – is that they are a recent technology, which worldwide is studding, like us. There are many challenges yet”, says Luciana Villa Nova.


The American Avon, Natura´s concurrent on direct sales in the country, has just launched liiv botanicals line, with two products that offers refills for the consumers, in harmony with line’s market position: Night Revitalizing Face Gel and Revitalizing Face Cream FPS20 Day, both with regular price of $18,75 and refill for  $ 12,8.

It is not the first company’s products line to offer refills to the consumers. The creamy soap of Erva-Doce (anise) line and the compact foundation of multiple action of Avon make-up line also offer refills. “It is a way of generating more accessibility of consumers to the products, once Avon seeks for beauty democratization”, says Ricardo Patrocinio, Avon Brazil Cosmetics Marketing director.

The Parana state franchising company O Boticario also offers products with refill to its consumers since 1999, with brand’s skincare line. “The option was to allow to consumer to keep using the product, spending less resources then with a new complete packaging and for material consume reduction and consequent diminution of environment impact”, says Renata Barini – O Boticario´s Packaging Development manager.


The company uses refills for skincare line Facial VitActive with mug for jars and on the O Boticário make-up line, with eyeshadows tray that can be assembled on the same main packaging and Soft Blush which has just came out on refillable packaging. Its regular price is $ 37,5; the refill coasts $22.

“Refilled packaging, especially for make-up provides yet great agility on O Boticario season’s launches and allows yet that the consumers be always updated with season’s colors”, reinforces Renata Barini.

The same way tool German ArtDeco which brings its make-up line to the country, and offers since its foundation, in 1985, eyshadows, blush, foundation (Double Finish) and compact powder on packaging which content comes on magnetic tablets, which can be changed, according to the taste and need of the consumer. The brand has packaging for until 10 refillable eyshadow tones.


“The packaging ends up having a longer utile life because we get to profit the set much more. A conventional set the products finish and the packaging is thrown out”, says Claudia Duarte, ArtDeco, brand manager in the country. Here the brand is distributed by Frajo, a company form Campinas, Sao Paulo. According to her final consumer economizes until 30% with the refill packaging. “The second point is custom-made products. The attainment of each woman’s needs is one of the principles that directs brands concept”, reinforces Claudia.


It’s the greatest companies that are defying packaging suppliers market to develop and produce each time more and with greater technology refillable packaging.

With its plant in Brazil for less then five years, Rexam produces refillable packaging for Natura and O Boticario. For both the company produces make-up refillable packaging. One of company’s highlights was the development of Natura´s refillable lipstick. “In this case, the own mechanism is already assembled with the lipstick bulk, is used as refill”, says Alexandre Trimigliozzi, Brazilian Rexam accounts coordinator. The other is the liquid foundation packaging, a plastic flask that is assembled and disassembled under a rigid coat on the shape of a flask, without bottom.

The company produces four kinds of refillable packaging: click, which has as reference remote control batteries caps;  interference, when two pieces are assembled using dimensional differences between the areas that will fit, in other words, the piece with a region of greater dimension fits in a forced way in another piece with a region of smaller dimensions and screw, joining among two pieces cap type and bottle neck of flasks for liquids and pressure, when two pieces needs mechanical strength to be joined one to another.

“On a refill conception, the greatest worries are the content transference facility, coast and transportation, resulting in specific models for each case”, evaluates Jefferson Pelissaro, responsible for Ab Plast development area, a Natura supplier of some make-up refill frame, mugs for jars and caps for lipstick bulk. The refills can be of tube/flasks kind with beak, sachets, mugs for jars, make-up inserts, etc. “The difference is on the objective, points out; there is also the ones of finer walls to minimize coasts and make easy content utilization”.

“It is not complicated. It is important to know from the beginning of the project, because we already have tools, ways to join assemble for the public. Normally we make it to not come out, but when it is refill it needs to make in an easy way the assemblage and disassemble”, says Aptar B&H Embalagens MBF Embalagens LTDA Mauricio Carini commercial manager.

Vulcan, films and PVC laminated producer, on flexible plastic packaging bets on SoftPack, a sachet made from technical bobbins of PVC film, especially for refill use for rigid cosmetic packaging. Among its characteristics are the one of saving space on stocking, gondolas, on consumer pantry and on discharging. They are ideal for liquid soaps, normally traded on flask with pump valves, therefore more expensive.

The story of refills and biodegradable materials are just beginning and cosmetic industry might take hold of all the resources – available or not in the market – to find out its trajectory to contribute with environment impact reduction and keep its consumers attended on its needs and conscience.