The overall aim is to create convenient refill solutions, while preserving brands’ premium experiences. Glass suppliers are responding to this challenge in several categories.

Glass for premium skincare refills

The Pochet Group has developed several models of skincare jars fitted with different refill systems. Odyssey is a glass-based jar with a glass cup held in place by an interface designed for mobile use. The more recent Marvelous is a prestige skincare jar involving intuitive gestures. The jar and refill are made of glass, and the hidden refill feature gives it high-end aesthetics. Another version, the Malti jar, comes in a multitude of materials – wood, glass, metal – for the jar and cup, and is associated with a gesture that is as intuitive as ever.

For their part, Stoelzle and Technicaps offer a new generation of Le Perpétuel refillable glass jars, with a 100% PP-based, recyclable cup.

Stoelzle modified the dimensions of the Classic 50-ml jar with special features on the top of the ring to accommodate a refillable 50-ml cup. The system incorporates an opening zone for positioning the cup’s notches, a support zone to prevent the cup from being withdrawn through transfer, and a blocking zone to ensure the cup stops moving. The whole system makes it easy for consumers to attach and remove the cup.

Gerresheimer and Medicos Beauty Group joined forces to develop a new clickable refill system for cosmetics. It combines the Gerresheimer Gx-CyClic reusable glass with the Medicos 50-ml Re-CliCK cup and a plastic lid, also made by Medicos. The lightweight glass jar is made from 40% recycled PCR glass, while the interior is made from biosourced PP, and the cap from R-PET, PET, or PP. All materials are recyclable after use. The clickable solution offers easy and intuitive handling of the refill packs.

Finally, Verescence combined its expertise with that of Albéa to create a premium glass version of the TWIRL plastic-based refillable jar originally developed by Albéa. The base, produced by Verescence in Spain, is made from Verre Infini® 20: it incorporates 20% of Post-Consumer Recycled (PCR) glass and the shade meets luxury brands’ aesthetic requirements. The lid, cup and top, all manufactured at Albéa, are made from polypropylene (PP), a recyclable material. The jar was specially designed to create an intuitive gesture for quick and easy refilling. The glassmaker also developed refills made from 20% PCR recycled glass and lightened glass for perfumes: they have already been selected by several L’Oréal brands. Since the end of January, a cap made from biosourced and recyclable Sulapac material has also been available to help reduce the use of plastic.

Verescence also created the safety glass designed for refilling hygiene products that is now available in a standard range called Céleste.

Berlin Packaging took a different approach for Double Glass Refill & Go, a new refillable solution for the extra-premium packaging segment available in 15-ml and 30-ml sizes. The double-walled design of this collection makes it possible to reuse the outer glass bottle and refill it with a new tubular glass vial to beautify cosmetics formulas.

For its part, Asquan showcased a premiumized, 100% refillable version of its Migo range, with recyclable, styrene-free 30-ml or 50-ml jars made from PP or PE, or even with some PCR, depending on the brand’s requirements. In the same range, Asquan also offers styrene- and metal-free refillable and recyclable airless bottles in 30-ml and 50-ml versions. “There is a strong demand for high-end refillable solutions”, explains Éric Goyer, Area Sales Director at Asquan. “We have modernized the design of our Migo range to meet these expectations, and we have also been working on glass solutions that are very much in demand in the luxury industry. By working on aesthetics, we can obtain a long-lasting product with the potential for strong differentiation”.

Refillable airless

Like Asquan, most airless technology specialists have adapted their models so they can be reused, as can be seen with the Baïa Refill range by Lablabo. The pack consists of the glass or PE bottle, a PE or aluminium pouch for sensitive formulas, the pump, and the cap and collar. Lablabo also developed the Select range for large capacities up to 400 ml, which comes in several pump models.

In the maxi refill segment, Pinard Beauty Pack unveiled a light version of its Dolce bottle with extremely thin walls, perfectly suited to refill sizes.

Berlin Packaging also put forward a new collection of refillable glass-based airless solutions: Airglass Slim Refill & Go is available in 15, 30 and 50-ml sizes. The collection consists of a glass-based outer bottle and a PP insert integrating the airless technology. It is designed for travel, thanks to the pump’s safety clip.

Reusable applicators

As a high-end application specialist, Cosmogen is increasingly pushing for the reuse of its highly-specialized tube tips. Designed to be fully separable, the packs featuring an applicator and an ON/OFF closing system in the Maxi Squeeze’n range now boast their own refill, which can adapt to any applicator.

The biomaterial alternative

Considered a promising trend in the cosmetics industry, the use of organic, renewable materials as an alternative to traditional plastics, even if they can be recyclable, is becoming more widespread and is associated with the refill trend.

Supplier Somater introduced two projects in the prototyping phase. The first is a moulded fibre cup made from virgin or recycled cellulose. Laminated to make it suitable for food contact, the cup can be decorated using digital printing, In-Mold Labelling (IML), embossing, or labelling. There are various types of barriers, including applying a PE or PP film after the cup has been moulded, which represents less than 5% of the total weight to guarantee recyclability.

The second is a thermoformed refill incorporating a combination of seaweed starch and polypropylene or polyethylene, the whole being recyclable. The material is sourced from green algae, recovered and recycled in the south of France. The use of seaweed starch produces a velvety, silky texture with a pleasant feel. The compound can be combined with colorants to create a range of colours, from white to black, including pastel shades. Plus, screen printing and hot stamping can be used for decoration purposes.

Technicaps took the same approach with a standard glass jar fitted with a moulded pulp cup with a smooth, white, shiny finish. The PP barrier material does not affect recyclability. This version, which can be recycled in the paper sorting process, is currently being tested and due to be finalized at the end of the year.

Lipsticks highlighted as refill pioneers

In the makeup segment, lipsticks represent a pioneering category when it comes to refillability. In terms of sustainability, it often seems more feasible to refill the stick than to recycle the product, as recycling requires a monomaterial approach to technical packaging, with elements that are difficult to separate.

Axilone actually worked on these two strategies for its customizable Everlast range, which offers a choice of round or square-shaped monomaterial lipsticks of various diameters, fully based on aluminium, PET or PP, which makes them recyclable. Two patented systems are available: the Lock Key® system and the Clic-Fit® technology also make it possible to safely refill the stick. Asquan had the same goal for its refillable lipstick pack solution 100% made from aluminium.

This article was published in our special issue Beauty Packaging Innovation. Full text available here.