Eight cosmetic brands – Mustela (Laboratoires Expanscience), Garancia, La Rosée Cosmétiques, Bioderma (NAOS), A-Derma, Ducray, Eluday, and Klorane (Laboratoires Pierre Fabre) – united for the first time to set up a shared ecoresponsible project and offer 15 of their products in bulk at physical stores, so they can be purchased as refills in 500-ml glass-based pump bottles. Supported by (Re)Set, a consulting agency specialized in economic and environmental transition, the Pharma-Recharge Consortium launched the experience at the Carré Opéra pilot pharmacy on June 22nd, with a simple, easy-to-use concept compliant with hygiene standards.

63% of French people would like to buy their usual packed products in bulk [1]”, says Antoine Maret, Open Innovation Director of Laboratoires Expanscience for the Mustela brand, “but there is no real solution in points of sale. To understand and respond to consumer behaviours, we are now entering a cooperation era. A triple win, economic, ecological, and ecoresponsible cooperation”, he adds.

An ergonomic, secured system

The system takes the form of a piece of furniture shared by the 15 fountains of products and designed by Mobil Wood, an expert in ecodesigned furniture made from wood of French origin. The fountains were designed by Jean Bouteille, a pioneer company specialized in bulk and reuse solutions. The user follows the steps on the control module to fill in their bottle. The latter is to be fixed to the fountain selected, so a predefined dose is automatically poured, and then a label with the batch number and instructions is immediately issued to be affixed on the bottle. Then, the user washes the bottle, takes it back following the instructions given, and refills it for a price inferior to 15% to 20% to the initial price. The washing instructions are provided on the regulatory label automatically printed by the module and are also displayed on the piece of furniture, in the pharmacy. The first time, the bottle costs €1.99, and the number of reuses is counted every time the bottle is refilled.

The items selected by the brands are daily products with a high sales volume. They are also chosen for their compatibility with the fountains, in particular in terms of viscosity. They are usually hygiene products like shower gels, shampoos, or micellar water: an oat-based shampoo by Klorane, the Bioderma Atoderm Cleansing Oil, La Rosée’s Makeup Remover Micellar Gel, the Mustela Organic Cleansing Gel, Garancia’s Pschitt Magique Micropeeling...

A conclusive experience

Driven by two main reasons for buying refilled products, i.e. reduced plastic waste and cheaper price, the pilot experience seems to have appealed to both consumers and the pharmacy staff. After four months, a survey of 150 users revealed that 90% of them were satisfied of the experience, and that 99% supported reuse for hygiene and beauty products. These encouraging results led the consortium to deploy its common project further in various regions. The furniture will be installed in four other pharmacies this November: two in Eastern France, one in the South-West, and one East of Paris.

The experience will span six months, until May 2024, so a first assessment can be carried out, but the consortium has announced that several additional brands are already in line to be integrated to the project.