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5-minute read

It’s as easy as refilling your water bottle…and saves so much plastic!

You buy products in recycled packaging and recycle everything you can at home. But did you know there’s a next-level waste reduction option that’s worth checking out? It’s concentrated refills. 

What’s the problem with single-use products?

Single-use products aren’t necessarily a problem. There are great products that are packaged in recycled plastic, meaning they are already supporting a circular economy for plastic.

But refilling goes a step further by letting you reuse the bottle from your first purchase multiple times before a new one is needed.

Since concentrated refills are many times smaller than the diluted end product, they require less packaging. In fact, for many products, refilling with a concentrated refill can cut plastic waste by 90% or more.

And that’s not to mention fewer carbon emissions since they’re smaller to produce and weigh much less for shipping.

But aren’t they messy and complicated?

Not at all! Refilling with a concentrate is as easy as refilling your water bottle and adding a flavor. The instructions vary for different products, but the steps are usually simple:

  1. Put the concentrate in the empty bottle – for some products you pour in concentrate from a mini bottle, others come in a little pod you drop in.
  2. Fill with water from your tap.
  3. Add the sprayer or pump to seal the bottle.
  4. Swirl or shake, depending on the product.
  5. That’s it! It’s ready to use.

Keep in mind that for some products, you’ll add the water first and then the concentrate, for example to minimize foaming. Always read and follow the label instructions for the specific product you’re using.

How many companies offer concentrated refills?

A growing number, but not enough!

SC Johnson has offered concentrated refills for more than a decade, but one of the biggest challenges was getting them onto store shelves without proof shoppers would want to try them.

Happily, as more people have come to see the importance of reducing plastic waste, more stores are embracing products that require less packaging and encourage reuse. Plus, there are many options sold online.

You can help, too, by using concentrates and telling your favorite brands you want them.

Here are easy steps you can take…

  1. Try concentrated refills and help spread the word by telling your friends about their benefits.
  2. Message your favorite brands on social media and tell them you want concentrated refill options.
  3. Reuse original packaging for as long as you can by refilling, to help keep the plastic in use.
  4. Recycle packaging when you’re finished with it, to help support the circular plastic economy.

Terms to Know

Product refills come in various shapes and options. Waste reduction happens when the refill uses less packaging than buying another full-size product. For example, it might not include a new trigger or might be smaller due to being concentrated. 

Concentrated refills usually bring big packaging savings since the refill package is very small compared to a full-size product. Plus, since they’re just the concentrated product without the water, they weigh much less, making shipping more efficient.

Typically, concentrated refills save 90% or more packaging compared to a full-size package including a trigger spray or pump.

You’re already saving plastic with a refill but be sure to also check if the refill is recyclable. Many are, which means you save even more plastic when you choose them.