Webinar Recap: Three strategies to build a plastic-free future

What are impactful strategies to scale the Reuse Revolution? That was the subject of a global webinar featuring the perspectives of three experts tackling the plastic pollution. We were joined by Kumala Susanto (Hepi Circle), Emma Priestland (BreakFreeFromPlastic) and Brian Bauer (Algramo).

Penetrating new markets with reuse solutions

Our first speaker, Kumala Susanto, Co-founder and CEO from Hepi Circle took our audience to Surabaya, Indonesia. The start-up has originally started with a pilot on refill delivery systems for local warungs (small local stores).

To scale their impact, Hepi Circle expanded from low-income markets to middle, as well as upper market segments and changed their customer proposition. Reasons for that were, among others, that customers were worried about losing their reusable containers. As all of us, Indonesians follow trends and examples from others: Hepi Circle saw the opportunity to make customers in the middle and upper market segments ambassadors for reuse solutions.

“They make reuse and zero waste more visible in the Indonesian context.”

Kumala Susanto, Hepi Circle

Now, Hepi Circle delivers daily products without single-use packaging. Customers place an order online and their goods will be brought to their homes in a reusable container. With their reverse logistic system Hepi Circle ensures that the packaging they are using doesn’t end up in the ocean or is littered. Th reverse logistic system and ecommerce technology is essential to Hepi Circle and crucial for facilitating the disruptive change they are aiming for.

“Reveal, Reduce, Re-invent” to drive the Reuse Revolution

The second speaker, Emma Priestland joined from the United Kingdom. As the Global Corporate Campaign Coordinator at BreakFreeFromPlastic, Emma brought a different perspective on scaling the Reuse Revolution. The global movement lays its main emphasis on shifting company’s plastic usage at the start of the value chain.

BreakFreeFromPlastic was founded in 2016 growing from 80 NGOs into a global movement of 2,000 individuals, organizations and associated businesses. BreakFreeFromPlastic aligns forces, bringing together voices working on the plastic problem.

“The plastic pollution is not solved by just banning plastics, simply recycling it or switching to bio plastics. A change in business models is necessary.”

Emma Priestland, BreakFreeFromPlastic

To stop the plastic pollution and to achieve a systemic change, BreakFreeFromPlastic challenges corporates to change their practices when it comes to plastic usage. Their three demands are:

BreakFreeFromPlastic challenges corporates to change their practices when it come to plastic usage.

As a matter of fact, FMCGs are increasingly committed to tackling the plastic pollution problem. However, they have not yet set a clear target on what they want to. Many companies still depend on recycling, which is not the answer to plastic pollution – reusable solutions are. For large multinationals it can be difficult to change as their business models are built on centralized and globalized distribution systems.

Innovators and start-ups are seen as perfectly positioned to re-design supply chains in a more localized and disruptive manner. They are starting from scratch, work in close contact with their customers and are able to easily tweak the supply chain and the packaging. They are the future and will validate new delivery models that can also inspire FMCG companies.

Teaming up with FMCGs to scale impact

One of these start-ups that recently partnered up with multinationals is Algramo. Our guest speaker Brian Bauer, responsible for Circular Economy and Alliances talked with us about partnering with large FMCGs and “tackling the big elephant in the room”. They have started their work in Santiago de Chile and are aiming to expand global reuse solutions by teaming up with major brand-owners.

Algramo 1.0 started off with a refillable dispensing system that has made its way into 2,000 stores across Santiago. Their vision was to erase the “poverty tax” that families with low-income are forced pay when purchasing products in small packages, unable to afford buying products in bulk. Algramo enables customers to buy in smaller quantities for an affordable price. Their disruptive business model has attracted the attention of some major brands including Unilever and Nestlé.

Algramo’s Refill Technology is based on smart packaging that is user-friendly,
secure and convenient.

Today Algramo 2.0 is bringing the service to the next level. In collaboration with Unilever, they have launched a mobile home-refill service, selling products such as laundry detergents on an electric tricycle. “It works like an ‘Uber Eats’ service,” Bauer says. Customers call the tricycle for an onsite refill in their home. This works via an app and is completely free of charge. The smart packaging via RFID tags on the refillable containers in conjunction with an app that encourages cashless payments.

Teaming up with a big player like Unilever empowers Algramo to scale their impact by leveraging the global supply chains. The advice Brian is giving to start-ups and social entrepreneurs:

“Team up with large multinationals at an early stage to co-develop a system that already involves the products of the brand.”

Brian Bauer, Algramo

Three impactful strategies to scale the Reuse Revolution

As we have heard in the webinar, there are many effective ways to scale the Reuse Revolution.

  1. Pivoting into new market segments to increase the impact (Hepi Circle).
  2. Tackling plastic pollution upstream by changing corporate and consumer behavior (BreakFreeFromPlastics).
  3. Leveraging global supply chains for reuse models by partnering with multinationals, like Unilever (Algramo).

All different strategies serve the same goal: to create a circular economy and to make a shift from linear to circular business models.

The incredible motivation and passion shown by the global speakers and audience makes us more hopeful than ever that real change can happen! We’re looking forward to the next webinar to come and hope to see you next time!

Link to full webinar: Scaling the Reuse Revolution (January 2020)

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