Yorkshire-based sustainable chemical manufacturer, The Friendly Chemical Co (FCC) has launched a new refill station concept for its ethical household and personal care products brand, Miniml.

Working with distribution partner, Acopia, and packaging specialists, Fenton Packaging Solutions, the refill stations were launched on 23rd March.

The events were hosted by Jennifer Graham, often called “Charity Shop Girl”, who is a second-hand fashion advocate, charity shop lover and the voice of the Charity Retail Association – the only membership organisation dedicated to the UK charity retail sector.

Replacing rigid plastic with a more sustainable solution

“We are excited to launch the new refill system which eliminates the use of rigid plastic containers, and makes using a refill station easier,” says FCC co-founder Scott Rudd. “Our mission is to make it easy to use natural cleaning products, while using less plastic.

“Miniml launched three years ago when we were at the local refill shop, and we questioned what happened to the containers once the store had finished with them. When we discovered that they were recycled or thrown away, the idea of Miniml was born. We thought we could do it better by collecting the containers, cleaning them and re-using them again creating a closed loop supply chain.

“A breakthrough in developing the new system came through working with Leeds-based Fenton Packaging Solutions, which is a UK leader in sustainable bag-in-box packaging solutions. It is important that we work with organisations that share our values and ethos, and are fully behind our goal – to leave a minimal trace on the planet. Fenton helped us develop a sustainable refill solution which does away with the traditional rigid plastic jerry cans used in the sector, replacing them with a reusable packaging format that we can then reuse again and reduce our carbon impact by shipping the flat packaging back to us when they are empty rather than the bulky rigid containers.

Saving 100% plastic
“We are pleased to be able to help FCC achieve its zero-waste goals by providing a sustainable bag-in-box solution,” says Fenton Packaging Solutions Sales Development Director Chris Warren. “The bags we supply at the start point are 10% of the weight of the equivalent plastic jerrycan, so that’s an immediate 90% saving in plastic weight. In addition, the bags can be washed and reused multiple times and then upcycled, while the boxes can also be reused or upcycled. Compared to using rigid plastic jerry cans, each Miniml refill system therefore saves 100% of plastic as the containers are used over and over again.

“For many years, Fenton Packaging Solutions has offered the most sustainable packaging solutions available, and we are actively migrating customers to bag-in-box or PCR Plastic Containers which contain a minimum of 30% recycled content.”

Seeking a zero-waste lifestyle
“Installing the Miniml refill system at two major charity sites is just the start, as the system will work perfectly in any retail outlet,” says Scott Rudd. “But, we already have more charity sector launches planned for later this year. The demographic of people who use charity shops is a perfect match for our sustainable refill station model, as they generally understand the importance of ethical and sustainable choices, and are often seeking a zero-waste lifestyle. So, launching this new system with Air Ambulance and Barnardo’s is a great fit, and enables the charities to deliver on their corporate social responsibility and ESG values, while cementing their commitment to sustainability.

“We work tirelessly to ensure we leave minimal impact on our planet. In fact, we keep working hard to ensure our products and our manufacturing practices leave no trace that we were ever here at all. Miniml is on track to become the sector leader that encourages more consumers to make small, simple switches to a better, greener lifestyle.”