Manchester’s first ‘milkman style’ zero waste home delivery service. The service delivers eco-friendly cleaning products and toiletries in reusable glass bottles, and a range of reduced packaging products including bamboo toothbrushes in a simple cardboard packet and beeswax food wraps (a plastic-free alternative to clingfilm).
Despite the fact there are now a wide range of eco-friendly cleaning and personal care products on the market, the majority of them still come in single-use plastic packaging.
This is something that Aaron and Fanni wanted to tackle, and so 8 months ago Aaron found himself posting on the local M20 facebook group to see if there was an appetite for a milkman style reusable bottle delivery service for household products.
The response was really positive, and just 2 weeks later, the couple were making their first deliveries.
“I guess it was a bit of madness”, says Aaron. “We had always wanted to run our own business, and we’d talked about lots of different ideas. We’d spoken before about the fact that a zero-waste shop in South Manchester would go down really well, but business unit rents and set up costs would be really expensive, so we wanted something a bit more manageable”. Add to that the fact that Aaron and his wife both have full time jobs, not to mention a baby on the way!
Every Saturday morning, Aaron sets out to deliver over 200 reusable bottles that have been refilled for customers, and collects the bottles they have emptied. “I think we’ve currently got around 1,200 bottles in circulation, and we deliver about 200 bottles out every week”.
When customers place a first order, they pay a deposit for the first set of bottles they receive, and from there it’s just like the old-style milkman system. You place your next order, and pop your used bottles on the doorstep on the day of the delivery for Aaron to collect when he drops off the new delivery. Aaron and Fanni wash and sterilise every used bottle, refill, and they go out to other customers.
Products include laundry liquid and powder, washing up liquid, household cleaner, shampoo, conditioner, soap, toothpaste, deodorant, and even ‘Cheeky Panda’ natural bamboo toilet roll and kitchen roll! Every product has been selected for its eco-credentials, and M20 Refills work with brands like Suma, Faith in Nature and other independent suppliers.
Aaron says that he and Fanni are far from perfect, but that they both try hard to be environmentally conscious. “We both hated the amount of plastic packaging, a lot of which wasn’t recyclable, that we’d come home from the shops with, and we felt the need to do something. I guess you could say this is a labour of love”.
So what’s the future of M20 refills?
“We currently have customers in Didsbury, Chorlton, Stretford, Wilmslow, Sale, Altrincham, Cheadle, and beyond. This has already gone way beyond M20, which is great. People contact us all the time and ask us when we’ll be setting up a service in Bristol or Cambridge, all over the country! We’re currently thinking about how this could scale up, and we think we’d like to franchise and teach people in other cities how to set up a service like M20 Refills”. M20 Refills are now looking for someone to join their business to assist with the day to day running of the operation.
“If you can make the right choice convenient, lots of people will do it. We want to make it possible for more people to make sustainable choices.”
Plastic Free GM
Greater Manchester has launched the first city-region wide plan to drive down avoidable single-use plastics!
PlasticFreeGM asks businesses, organisations and individuals to pledge to take action to reduce avoidable single use plastics across Greater Manchester. PlasticFreeGM works with campaigning partners to provide information and advice to guide more sustainable choices. A number of sector specific campaigns are taking off to offer relevant support and information on reducing single use plastics.Read more