“Inside a laundromat in Stuyvesant Heights, Brooklyn, it’s now possible to buy standard cleaning products like Pine-Sol without having to buy a whole new container. Instead you’ll be able to bring your old container back, and refill it yourself. The location is one of the first to pilot a new system from a startup called Algramo.
The company first launched a variation on the service in Santiago, Chile, where it uses electric tricycles equipped with refill stations to make home deliveries of common brands of laundry detergent and dishwashing soap. After an investment from Closed Loop Ventures, a New York-based venture capital fund focused on the circular economy, it’s expanding to the U.S. ‘The goal is to get cleaning products and other essential items to consumers without creating the waste of single-use packaging,’ says Bridget Croke, managing director at Closed Loop Partners, the investment firm that runs the fund and that is helping guide the new launch.
At the Brooklyn laundromat, as well as at two other pilot locations at the Brooklyn Navy Yard and in the Lower East Side, customers can use Algramo’s app and refillable containers equipped with RFID tags at a refill station to buy as much of a product as they need. When they need more, they bring back the package to get a discount on their next refill. The smart package is also linked with the app, so it serves as a digital wallet, letting you pay just by refilling. ‘A lot of people forget to bring their refillable container back to a store, and never forget to bring their wallet,’ says Algramo founder and CEO José Manuel Moller. ‘That’s why we transformed the packaging into a wallet.'”