One time, a couple of years ago, we tried, and failed to make our refill packs out of 100% recycled plastic. If you’ve been following us for a while, you may remember when this flop happened.
Our theory was that if you need to use plastic in your packaging for it’s convenient benefits like durability, and the ability to protect what you’ve packed into it (like our dependable detergent in our handy refill packs), then 100% recycled plastic is the best option.
In theory: true.
In reality: the nature of recycled plastic is that it loses durability and its quality degrades each time it is recycled. This is why plastic can only be repurposed a finite number of times and it’s extremely rare to find packaging made from 100% recycled plastic. Commonly you’ll see, ‘made with recycled plastic’ without any insight into the percentage of recycled vs virgin / new materials in said packaging.
Because we manage our own Refill and Return Program from our Melbourne HQ, it’s essential that our packs are strong enough to withstand being used, returned, refilled and reused over and over again. So we need durability with the intent that our refill packs can have the longest life possible (we currently have refill packs on their 6th journey in and out of the warehouse).
It fits the four R’s here at Dirt:
- Refuse plastic where we can.
- Reduce all packaging material.
- Reuse all of our packaging.
- Recycle what we can.
When we went to 100% recycled plastic, it just didn’t work.
This didn’t dishearten us from continuing the journey and challenging ourselves to find a compromise we could feel confident in: strong enough to thrive in our Refill Return Program, whilst also moving away from virgin plastic and towards as high of recycled plastic content as possible.
So we’re thrilled to announce our next step forward. Our standard refill packs are now made from a minimum of 30% post-industrial recycled plastic. If it’s a new term to you, post-industrial plastic is made from recovered waste from manufacturing that would otherwise go to landfill. With our needs for a high reuse rate, to the best of our knowledge, this is the highest recycled content we can currently achieve.
You'll know you have one of our recycled refill packs because they have 'Refill Packs Made From Post Industrial Waste' printed on the back.
With this said, we’re not confident that post-industrial plastic in our 3L bulk refill packs can withstand our refill return program, so we’re still testing and searching for the best solution here. (If you are an Elon Musk equivalent in the recycled consumer packaging sector and have a solution you think could work, please get in touch!)
We’re proof that progress isn’t always visible, and it definitely isn’t linear. We’re committed to sharing every step forward (and backwards) with you because we’re also proud as punch to be a small team flipping the laundry industry on its head and proving that creating products that do less harm is possible.
P.S. We stood by our commitment not to discard any of our failed recycled packaging. Almost two years later we've transformed our trash into treasure. Meet Machine Wash and our first 100% recycled product.