NEWS13 April 2022

Ecover and Basis unite on sustainability research

News Sustainability UK

UK – Basis has partnered with eco-friendly cleaning products brand Ecover on a research programme designed to encourage consumers to embrace a refill lifestyle.

Pop-up installation to showcase Ecover's Refullution campaign

Having campaigned against plastic waste for decades, Ecover is now spearheading an initiative called Refillution, which promotes the benefits of refilling household products. The brand commissioned Basis to help understand why refilling remains a niche activity and how to encourage and enable consumers to live a less disposable lifestyle.

The London-based agency embarked on a programme of research that combined qualitative and ethnographic methods with expert interviews and collaboration. Speaking with academics, product designers, retail professionals and third-sector sustainability advocates, the agency ensured that the study allowed them to view the problem from multiple angles, triangulating towards novel interpretations and solutions.

Meanwhile, longitudinal diary studies, group discussion and in-home visits with a range of consumers – tracking the behaviour of current refillers and tasking non-refillers to try it for the first time – gave a rich and authentic view of how the refilling concept plays on the ground.

Basis identified three cognitive paradigms that make a move towards refilling challenging and what it will take to shift them. Some 10 recommendations were drawn up to guide brands and retailers on how to increase motivation and remove barriers to refilling in the short to medium term. 

Lastly, the report details four longer-term considerations – challenges that will have be tackled at a systemic level to create a favourable environment for refilling.

The report is available for digital download as well as being distributed in physical copies to over 800 specialist and wholefood stores nationwide. The insights are also being submitted to a parliamentary enquiry into mobilising sustainable behaviour change. In addition, copies were available to visitors to Ecover’s Refillery pop-up, (pictured above) where they turned a disused petrol station in Borough into a dedicated Ecover refill space for two days.

“This has been a really stimulating piece of work because of its purpose, but also because of its complexity,” commented Hereward Feldwick, lead author of the report and research director at Basis.

“Working with academics and other experts really pushed us to deepen our understanding, while the consumer research kept us grounded in the day-to-day reality of people’s lives. I hope we’ve been able to do justice to this crucial question and that Ecover and others will find our recommendations useful.”

Evelyn Tinker, European customer insights lead at Ecover, added: “We believe passionately in our mission to help people shift to a less wasteful lifestyle and can see that the problem of plastic waste runs too deep to be solved by one party. Our intention in sharing our insights is to encourage other organisations to join us in overthrowing the culture of disposability, as this seismic shift can only be achieved through collaboration.”

The report is available to download here.