Melbourne start-up tackles waste one container at a time

Meet the Melbourne start-up that’s hitting the road to tackle plastic cleaning waste one container at a time.

Roving Refills is a Melbourne-based start-up providing refills of common cleaning products in a bid to reduce plastic cleaning waste.

The business, officially launched this month, is the brainchild of former environmental management and sustainability master’s student Claudine Lagier, who was inspired by Melbourne’s food truck culture when researching emerging sustainable entrepreneurial initiatives.

“I noticed all the plastic containers for detergents and other cleaning products in my own house and had the idea of simply refilling them,” she told INCLEAN.

“I have followed certain food trucks on social media and thought if people are willing to follow food trucks around, perhaps they’ll do the same for our truck.”

Lagier and her sister Raphaelle run Roving Refills as a side project twice a week; one day on the weekends at local markets in Melbourne’s inner west suburbs and one night during the week. The team operate using Lagier’s partner’s borrowed ute.

Roving Refills supplies cleaning products including laundry and dishwashing liquid and detergent, as well as laundry and dishwashing powder, natural cleaning alternatives like vinegar and bi-carb soda, and shampoo and conditioner.

“Our products are cheaper than supermarket options since we don’t need to account for the container cost,” said Lagier.

A litre of dishwashing liquid sets customers back $8 per litre, while a litre of dishwashing powder costs $13 per litre. One litre of multipurpose cleaner, eucalyptus disinfectant or window cleaner costs $8.

“We accept any kind of container. So far people have brought in glass jars and empty cleaning products and shampoo/conditioner bottles which is exactly the idea that I was going for.

“Most of our products are sourced from Williamstown-based supplier Back to Basics, which makes its own environmentally-friendly products, and Robyn’s Soap House in Knox,” said Lagier.

“We’re currently looking for suppliers that supply an environmentally-friendly product who would be willing to enter an arrangement that sees them take back their containers.”

The mobile business posts the times and locations it will be in operation for the month on its social media channels (Facebook, Twitter and Instagram). Due to the number of enquiries and questions already received, Lagier said a business website could be in the works.

“Social media [so far] is working for us, but we’ve received a lot of invitations to different opportunities. We’re open to expanding and already plan to set up in a few more markets.

“We hope to expand as soon as we can because there’s been so much interest in Roving Refills. We’re already thinking about how we can get to places like Geelong. There’s a real appetite for this out there in the community which is great.”

Lagier has big plans for Roving Refills. Along with expansion to more locations, Lagier would like to have a fleet of hybrid trucks (to keep carbon emissions down), servicing the east and west suburbs of Melbourne, as well as rural Victoria and Sydney.

“I’ve thought about setting up a pop-up shop but would keep the mobile part of the business because the idea is that we have enough trucks available so that everyone can walk to the nearest truck and fill up.”

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2 thoughts on “Melbourne start-up tackles waste one container at a time

  1. I just have a query for empty cleaning containers, as chemicals can have a residue that resides in the plastic, how are you cleaning these containers so no cross contamination occurs.

  2. Hi Debbie,
    If you’re referring to the bulk containers that come from our suppliers, our two biggest suppliers have assured me that they are able to clean them well enough to be used again. They may not be able to be used again for all liquids, but our main concern is that they are not going to landfill or into recycling after a single use.
    Thanks,
    Claudine- Roving Refills

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