Collaboration & creativity to design away from waste

Illustration by @eshakespeare

Legislation In the race to eliminate single-use plastics.

There’s nothing like a bit of healthy rivalry, particularly when it comes to phasing out problematic plastics during Plastic Free July. Each year, an estimated 130,000 tonnes of plastic flows into Australia’s environment (WWF). Without intervention it is further predicted that there will be more plastic in the ocean than fish by 2050 (World Economics Forum).

To address the root cause of this waste being created, we first need to ‘turn the tap off’ on hard to recycle, and non-necessary single use plastic items. As part of the Federal Government’s National Plastics Plan 2021, state governments have recently announced how they intend to realise certain nation targets. NSW declared a ban on lightweight bags, disposable plastic straws, micro beads and plastic cotton buds from 2022 as part of their efforts to reduce plastic litter by 30% by 2025. WA state governments have gone one step further fast tracking their actions to banish single use bowls, cups, plates, cutlery, stirrers, polystyrene containers plus many more by 31 December this year.

With these quite rightful bans, comes the need to address how we design alternative products and systems, to not create a waste stream elsewhere with a different material. We also need to implement nation-wide education, and infrastructure improvements to manage post-consumer waste while doing all we can to reduce the volume of materials used in a single use capacity.

Sensitivity & innovation to maximise materials

Illustration by @eshakespeare

Unilever Leading the way to refill

The Ellen MacArthur Foundation have estimated that if refill bottle designs and business models were applied to all bottles in beauty, personal care and home cleaning, the packaging and transport savings would represent an 80–85% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions compared to today’s traditional single-use bottles.

So it’s no wonder we’re seeing refill beginning to get the attention it rightly deserves. Unilever, like many other organizations, are working to ensure all their packaging is reusable, recyclable or compostable by 2025.

In the UK, a number of Unilever brands are now available in reusable packaging through 3 refill models in partnership with Asda and Beauty Kitchen, as part of a flagship sustainability store.


  • Touch-free refill machines provide an in-store dispensary with QR code traceability allowing Unilever to track the packaging’s purchase, use and refill process to gain insights on the circular model.
  • In-home refills have been adopted by brands to enable the use of concentrates and ‘bottles for life’. Cif’s eco-refills use 75% less plastic than conventional plastic bottles.
  • Self-serve containers are being used for loose item brands, like Pukka tea where people can use their own reusable packaging or buy one before paying for the weight of goods.

We’re really excited to see the growth in refill innovation and work with brands to help them realize the most appropriate refill model and design for their packaging. Together we have the opportunity to realize sustainability goals and reduce our impact on the environment.

We’d love to hear about your sustainable packaging challenges!

Harmonise with our planet to regenerate

Illustration by @eshakespeare

Kengos Fresh steps to sustainability.

We simply love all that Kengos stands for. Their core design principles are to minimize the number of components, maximise natural materials and provide repairable and recyclable shoes and packaging.

In the US alone, more than 300 million pairs of shoes are thrown away each year, with midsoles typically made of ethylene vinyl acetate taking upwards of 1,000 years to decompose. Kengos is challenging the shoe industry to rethink how you design and wear shoes for the better. Made only from natural materials they are held together with their patented one knot construction enabling ease of repair and disassembly for recycling at a later date.

Kengos takes a refreshing approach to bring their brand and packaging experience to life. The brandmark acknowledges the shoe’s bespoke knot and the packaging is designed with recycled cardboard which forms as the shipping container. The tear perforations remove the need for additional tapes or adhesives and upon opening are welcomed to the brand’s sustainability message.

If you want to be further impressed by Kengo, we encourage you to check them out!

Our Friends of the Earth thoughts are brought to you in collaboration with philo & co.

philo & co are a circular design consultancy helping creative agencies and brands transition to a circular economy. Pippa, the Founder of philo & co, is a Circulab certified circular design consultant and has more than 10 years’ experience within the creative industry working with global design agencies and leading FMCG brands.

Pippa brings a holistic view in solving the systemic challenges required to transition from linear to circular design by embedding regenerative thinking and practices into the heart of organisations. In 2020, she became a Climate Reality Leader following training by the Climate Reality Corps, led by Al Gore. When Pippa is not thinking of how to rid the world of waste, she is usually at the beach or enjoying a hearty meal (and wine) with friends.

Teamwork is dreamwork.