Innovative solutions to sachets and single use

I came across a wonderful initiative on Instagram. Zerowastelivinglab is based in Indonesia, and aims to introduce affordable solutions to all Indonesians.

If you have never visited Indonesia, or South-East Asia, you may not know that loads of everyday food, toiletry and cleaning products are sold as single use, single portion sachets. From coffee to shampoo, you can buy what you need with the money you have.

Unfortunately, this is a false economy, as most adults need more than one sachet to wash and condition their hair.

It seemed like a good idea at the beginning…

To quote from QBC Packaging Direct’s website:

The use of sachets in shampoo packaging has dramatically increased since the 1970s, when shampoos first became mainstream. The use of these aluminum foil pouches has risen in part because they keep fragrance and cleansing properties of a shampoo intact without burdening manufacturers with excessive packaging costs. Consumers have also accepted these sachets – as is visible from the rise of sales of shampoo sachets. To top it all, the use of sachets is proving more environment friendly as these pouches occupy significantly less space in landfills as compared to a plastic bottle.


…but it’s not

However, the way that sachets are made, plastic melted together with aluminium foil, means that they are almost impossible to recycle.

We can no longer accept these products, simply because of their prolific presence in the waterways, rivers and oceans of our world.

How do we bridge the gap between sustainability and affordability?


This is where Zero Waste Living Lab comes in. They encourage start-ups and support small shops in Indonesia to move away from selling these sachets, and to offer small, refillable bottles instead. The concept is based on the deposit scheme, which is a tried and trusted method to get people to reuse bottles.

They have also rolled out projects in apartment buildings, where people can basically access a vending machine to fill up their containers.

I love this idea and I look forward to see the country, and all countries in South-East Asia, adopting a deposit and refill scheme.

Indonesia is not the only country addressing this serious problem. Central and South American communities have also been inundated with financially cheap, environmentally costly sachets made by corporations such as Unilever.

Further reading:

Remember to check out the other articles on my blog.