The Body Shop Brings Refill Stations to the United States

By the end of 2022, 49% of U.S. stores will have this eco-friendly option.

Body Shop storefront and refill sign

The Body Shop

The Body Shop has announced a major roll-out of refill stations in stores across the United States. By the end of 2022, 49% of U.S. locations will offer refills to customers in an effort to cut down on unnecessary plastic containers and pollution. This is part of a broader five-year plan to implement refills in the majority of The Body Shop's stores worldwide.

"The foundation of The Body Shop's environmental activism was born out of ideas like these, when our founder, Dame Anita Roddick, refilled her first bottle out of necessity in 1976," said Hilary Lloyd, vice president of Marketing and Values, North America, in a press release about the launch. "Our customers have been eagerly awaiting for refills to return to The Body Shop. We're thrilled to be embracing a circular economy approach and provide this sustainable alternative."

Since April 2021, when refills were introduced in 400 stores internationally, an estimated 3.7 tons of plastic have been eliminated so far, equivalent to 170,000 plastic bottles. Now with another 400 stores being added in 2022 (including the U.S. ones), the amount of plastic saved will increase to at least 25 tons this year.

refilling a Body Shop aluminum container

The Body Shop

To participate in the refill program, customers select an aluminum container that's provided by the store. You cannot bring your own, but you can continue to reuse that same one every time you come back. This saves money, as the upfront cost for a new, full shampoo bottle is $12, then $9 for each subsequent refill. Shower gel and hand wash is $10 for a new bottle, $8 for a refill. Select shampoos, conditioners, shower gels, and hand washes will be available for refill, with selection ranging from six to 12 products, depending on store size.

There are two kinds of refill stations. As explained to Treehugger by a company representative, the "Refresh" style is like a wall dispenser and will be available in 27 U.S. locations. The "Trolley" is a mobile unit that can be placed anywhere in the store and will be in 12 locations. "Both include bulk dispensers with the product that you can refill your aluminum container with," the representative said.

No numbers are available yet on what percentage of customers will take advantage of these refills, but the model seems likely to succeed. Many people are concerned these days with reducing their plastic footprint, and solutions such as this—that allow a person to continue in their daily beauty habits, while making them more eco-friendly and cost-effective—are appealing. The fact that many people still make a point of visiting The Body Shop for the shopping experience itself makes it more likely that they'll remember to return with containers for refill. Like other major beauty stores, it's something of a destination in itself.

The Body Shop reusable container with sticker

The Body Shop

The Body Shop is concerned with sustainability in more ways than refills. It's moving toward more plant-based and recycled packaging, sourcing materials in a way that drives social change. In 2019 it began sourcing Community Fair Trade plastic from Bengaluru, India, to help "empower the marginalized waste pickers who work tirelessly to clean up their city's streets." The company pays these workers a fair price and ensures access to sanitary working conditions. The collected plastic is cleaned and sterilized, shipped to Europe, and repurposed into bottles.

You can find a Body Shop refill station by searching here.