Replenish Retail: The Refill Revolution
An Australian specialty tea company has developed compostable refill packaging and fill-your-own bulk dispensers in support of "Plastic Free July." Two million Australian consumers already have pledged to avoid single-use packaging, a national promotion that adds momentum to the "refill revolution." Founder Anthia Koullouros says Ovvio Organics is one of the first Australian tea companies to embrace sustainable, compostable refill packaging, a move she hopes will pave the way for industry change.
Anthia Koullouros founder Ovvio Tea
The logistical and financial challenges, says Koullouros, were no reason to shy away from sustainable alternatives.  There are food safe, quality alternatives that meet consumer standards, she says. Ovvio packaging features compostable refill bags, forever-use tea tins and a dedicated room where customers can top up their teas, herbs and spices in bulk. “Tea and coffee have a huge environmental footprint,” says Koullouros. “Tea and coffee packaging are notoriously indestructible and laden with chemicals. I couldn’t reconcile promoting healthy products which also harmed the planet.” The packaging films she has tested were developed by New Zealand company Convex. Convex’s bags and wrappers, called Econic, are made from renewable, plant-derived materials that compost effectively, unlike some biodegradables which fail to break down, she explains.  

Refill Revolution

Refill Revolution replaces plastic with environmentally-friendly alternates.
Craft beer is dispensed in growlers, wine is sold in boxes and dairies long ago began offering sanitary disposable bags used in dispensers, a foodservice solution now found in family kitchens. The slogan #choosetorefuse single-use plastic builds on the national campaign to rid the country of plastic bags. Refilling decorative tea tins is common practice in the tea lands and a practical option for fast-moving consumer expendables that are replenished on a frequent basis. Since brand messaging is less critical, refill packaging can be made more environmentally friendly. Marketing the brand can be assigned to the permanent storage container in which the refills are dispensed.

Plastic-free July

More than 6 out of 10 Australians bag their groceries and other goods in environmentally friendly multi-use bags. Refusing plastic shopping bags, avoiding pre-packed fruit and vegetables and refilling bottles instead of buying bottled water, are important steps every individual can choose.
  • Avoid products in plastic packaging (choose alternatives)
  • Reduce where possible (opt for refills, remember your reusable shopping bags)
  • Refuse plastics that escape as litter (e.g. straws, takeaway cups, utensils, balloons)
  • Recycling what cannot be avoided
Koullouros created Ovvio as a wellness line. “Every tea has a point and a purpose. They offer a range of therapeutic benefits such as calming, energizing, increased clarity and focus, restoration and detoxification – and all support emotional, physical and mental health,” she said. It took some time to find the right supplier, but sustainable packaging is available and ideally suited to marketing tea. The Ovvio Refill Revolution launch tea party is scheduled for July. Learn more: Source: Plastic Free July, Ovvio Organics