Customers are becoming increasingly conscious of the environmental impact of their beauty products and are seeking out brands that offer more sustainable options. The Body Shop is one such brand that is rising to the challenge by pioneering the concept of in-store refills. Customers now have the opportunity to refill their shampoos, shower gels, and even makeup products at The Body Shop stores.

We had the opportunity to speak with Georgie Coppin, the global head of marketing – gifting & sustainable innovation at The Body Shop, to learn more about this innovative approach to reducing plastic waste. Coppin explains that The Body Shop has been a leader in the ethical beauty sector for a long time, and customers expect these types of innovations and packaging solutions from the brand. The refill stations make it easier for people to reduce their environmental impact by offering convenient and accessible refilling options. In fact, since the launch of the refill stations, 29.5% of customers have returned to repurchase a refill, which is a higher repeat purchase rate than for plastic bottles.

Based on customer feedback, The Body Shop has expanded its refill offering to include its makeup range. Customers can now refill their lipstick and foundation powder, further reducing plastic waste. With a presence in over 80 countries, The Body Shop has a global view of beauty habits. Coppin emphasizes that the ecological transition in the beauty industry is a global movement and businesses need to step up and become part of the solution. The Body Shop does this through sustainability initiatives, innovations, activism campaigns, and global partnerships.

In France, there is a growing focus on moving towards a zero-waste bathroom, with solutions such as solid products, refills, and the banning of single-use items being considered. Coppin explains that in some countries, customers can already return their used cosmetics bottles to be cleaned, reused, or recycled. However, achieving a zero-waste bathroom requires collaboration between brands, governments, and consumers. Introducing new concepts and products is not enough; it’s about working together to implement and enforce these changes.

While many brands are coming up with sustainable concepts and products, the transition towards sustainability in the beauty industry is still relatively slow. According to Coppin, convenience is a major factor that prevents customers from switching to refill solutions. The Body Shop aims to make refilling convenient and easily accessible for customers by having refill stations in all eligible stores globally by the end of 2024. The goal is to make refilling a seamless part of customers’ daily lives and educate them on why refills are the best option for the planet.

One potential obstacle to the ecological transition is inflation. Developing and implementing sustainable innovations can be impacted by inflation, but The Body Shop’s purpose is to fight for a fairer and more beautiful world. Coppin acknowledges that inflation could be a barrier for customers but states that the brand is working to make refilling financially attractive by offering the same price as the standard plastic bottle with an additional 50ml of product for free with each refill.

So, is the zero-waste bathroom a utopia or the future of beauty? According to Coppin, refills and packaging solutions are a step in the right direction, but achieving zero-waste requires collaboration between businesses, governments, and consumers. It’s a shared goal that all parties need to work towards and reach a common understanding. The Body Shop remains committed to its mission of creating a more sustainable future and invites others to join them on this journey.

Useful links:
The Body Shop Refill Stations
The Body Shop Environmental Activism