Access the right amount of product without the need for non-recyclable single-use sachets.

Circular Design Challenge winner

Category 1: Rethinking grocery shopping

Algramo, a Chilean social enterprise, offers products in small quantities in reusable containers across a network of 1,200 local convenience stores in Chile.

How does this innovation accelerate the transition to a circular economy?

Algramo offers to customers in Chile affordable quantities of everyday products without single-use, non-recyclable packaging. Targeting economies where recycling infrastructure is limited and small packaging items such as sachets often end up in the environment, Algamo introduces a reusable packaging system with dispensers and affordable containers.

What’s new?

Drawing on its existing system across 1,200 convenience stores and reaching more than 200,000 customers already – plus new, Internet of Things-powered technology – Algramo has developed a promising dispenser system for small volumes of liquid products at low cost. While dispenser systems are not new in themselves, Algramo is at the forefront of making them a frugal and robust system intended for markets where single-use sachets are the most prominent form of packaging, and therefore where designing them out will have the biggest impact.

3 questions for the team

Algramo Winner Photo

Brian Bauer

Sustainability manager

  • What led you to come up with this idea?

  • I have taken ideas from my graduate studies in industrial ecology and life cycle assessment and merged them with Algramo’s innovative business model to create a solution that can replace sachets and other single use plastic packaging by dispensing products into small reusable containers.

  • Many others are proposing dispenser solutions instead of single-use sachets. What makes your idea stand out?

  • Algramo exclusively targets low-income markets where affordability is everything. We believe we can deliver liquid products normally sold in sachets at a lower price, which is a double win since it simultaneously fosters a circular economy mindset and saves people money. Few competing vending machine distribution models use digital technologies that provide customer value and enable fast scale-up of distribution at low cost.

  • What excites you the most about the New Plastics Economy Accelerator Programme?

  • Algramo’s goal is to deeply embed a circular systems approach into its use of plastics. We envisage becoming a success story for our responsible use of plastic. We see the advice from the New Plastics Economy Accelerator programme being an important source of knowledge, expertise, and industry connections, which will help us achieve these objectives.