Plastic free innovation
The world’s first plastic-free deodorant refill, made from a combination of bamboo and bagasse with a wax coating to prevent product leaching.
"Refillable deodorants are not a new thing, but no one has yet been able to make the refills 100% plastic free until now. We are really proud of the innovative way we have been able rethink cosmetic packaging - one of the industry’s’ biggest polluters - and to have a more positive environmental impact."
- Jo Barnard, Founder, Morrama
Over 250 million deodorants are bought in the UK every year, with the average lifespan of a plastic deodorant pack lasting over 400 years after use. Entering into this space meant an obligation to both highlight and address this problem. With that in mind, the brief from Wild was to design a world-first refill stick deodorant and zero-plastic compostable refills.
Making a plastic-free refill
At the time of this project, there were refillable deodorants on the market, however all of them had plastic components in the refill itself. The two key components being the plastic screw - that raises and lowers the deodorant, and the plate that the deodorant sits on. It was only by removing these components from the refill and engineering them into the case itself that we were able to conceptualise a plastic free refill design.
In determining the material for the refill there were two options. Initially we looked to work with a U.S. supplier to make a bespoke shape rolled cardboard tube (similar to the classic Smarties tube), however the development time and tolerances were major barriers. The alternative option was to utilise pulp moulding technology, the kind used in iPhone packaging boxes. Sourcing a supplier in China, we were able to fast track the design and test tooling and 4 months after starting the project, we had samples in our hands.
Made from a combination of bamboo and bagasse with a wax coating to prevent product leaching, the refill is compostable in 6 months in a home composting environment.
Refill + Case
Dividing the case in two, the lower half holds the mechanism that rises up and down and the upper half holds the refill. The case separates by pressing two buttons either side of the case and sliding out the bottom half. Then the refill is slotted in, the base clicked back into place and with a couple of twists the user is ready to go just like a standard stick deodorant.
Pushing the refill up was not a problem, but in order to pull the refill back down, there had to be some way of connecting the plastic components to the paper base of the refill itself. Initially adding ribs, we changed these to small teeth that grip into the soft paper material forming a strong connection between the two different materials.
Historically packaging has been designed for a short life span. Anything from a few minutes to a few weeks or months, but rarely longer. We wanted the Wild Deodorant case to be durable enough to use again and again every single day for years. To achieve this we tested the cases to destruction to understand the weak points in the design and strengthen them. Even after the product was launched we continued to make adjustments based on customer feedback. We are currently on revision 4 or 5 of the Wild Deodorant case, each time making it better and better.
As with anything that involves a level of innovation, there are always unknowns, there is always a level of risk. To minimise this, we will do as much testing and analysis in-house as possible before putting a product on the market, however sometimes opportunities for improvement only come to light when you have thousands of users. We factor the next steps into our scope of work so clients know that they have our continued support to make any necessary tweaks to the design even after it’s in production.