Are these pouches as sustainable as SNOAP?

I was sent this picture recently and told that liquid soap/hand wash bottles are refillable just like SNOAP....but are they???

The trend towards using refill pouches for liquid hand, hair, and body wash has been marketed as a more sustainable option compared to buying new bottles every time - or indeed switching to SNOAP. The rationale is straightforward: refill pouches use less plastic than traditional bottles, thus they should reduce the amount of plastic waste. However, this perceived sustainability benefit is more complex and nuanced than it initially appears. There are several reasons why refill pouches might not be the sustainable choice they are often presented as.

1. Complex Recycling Processes

One of the main issues with refill pouches is their complex recycling process. Many refill pouches are made from multi-layer plastics that are difficult to separate and recycle. This complexity makes them incompatible with standard recycling facilities, leading to a situation where most pouches end up in landfills or as incinerated waste, contributing to pollution and greenhouse gas emissions.

2. Plastic Production and Waste

Although refill pouches use less plastic than traditional bottles, they still contribute to plastic production and waste. The production of plastic, regardless of the amount, involves the extraction and processing of fossil fuels, which releases significant amounts of carbon dioxide and other pollutants. By continuing to consume products that rely on plastic packaging, we are perpetuating the demand for plastic and, by extension, the environmental damage it causes.

3. Transportation Footprint

While lighter and more compact, the transportation of refill pouches still contributes to their environmental footprint. The transportation of goods is a significant source of carbon emissions, and while refill pouches might allow for more efficient shipping compared to heavier bottles, they do not eliminate the impact. The benefit might be marginal when considering the entire lifecycle of the product, from production to disposal.

4. Consumer Behaviour

The effectiveness of refill pouches in reducing waste is also dependent on consumer behaviour. If consumers purchase refill pouches but continue to buy new bottles for convenience or out of habit, the potential environmental benefits are negated. Furthermore, the act of refilling from a pouch to a bottle requires a level of commitment and action that not all consumers are willing to undertake, potentially limiting the effectiveness of this approach.

5. Alternatives and Solutions

To truly address the sustainability of personal care products, it's essential to look beyond plastic and consider alternatives. Glass bottles, solid bars (shampoo, soap), refillable solid soap and shampoo dispensers and refill stations that allow consumers to refill their own containers directly are options that can significantly reduce plastic waste. These alternatives often come with their own set of challenges, such as higher upfront costs or convenience factors, but they represent a more sustainable path forward.

In conclusion, while refill pouches for liquid products might seem like a step in the right direction, they are not a panacea for the environmental issues associated with plastic waste. A more holistic approach that includes reducing overall consumption, opting for products with minimal or no packaging, and supporting systems that facilitate the reuse of containers is necessary for making a significant impact on sustainability.

So in summary, I would add that refill pouches "seem" like a better solution, and yes they have less plastic than a traditional plastic bottle BUT they are still contributing to plastic pollution as they are single use. SNOAP has ZERO single use plastic, produces cleaner wastewater and has less than 10% the carbon footprint of liquid washes - my vote therefore goes to SNOAP as the most sustainable choice for home and business. No single use plastic is always the best choice.


Until the next time,

Text reads 'Lady SNOAP' in the style of a signature