Under the spotlight in this edition is Miniml. They are now our main supplier for liquid refills since we switched to them at the start of 2020 as one of their very first stockists.
We are an independent family-owned business committed to changing the way people consume cleaning products and think about their waste. We started small, developing recipes in our garage, using only the kindest, most planet-friendly ingredients. As a business, our main goal is to create a closed loop supply chain. This means no unnecessary waste, no single-use plastic!
As always in our spotlights, we have a quick Q&A, this time with co-founder Emma.
What is your name and role, and please tell us a little more about Miniml and the products that you make?
I’m Emma, and I am the co-founder of Miniml! Miniml is a part of a family business that has been manufacturing eco-friendly cleaning chemicals for over 30 years. Myself and my partner Scott launched Miniml about 18 months ago as we thought our range would be a great fit for the zero waste industry! My father is the brains behind our amazing formulas we make in our soap factory in Yorkshire whilst Scott and I focus on growing the business and shouting about Miniml. We use pioneering green chemistry, and carefully select each ingredient that goes into our products making sure we use no SLS, palm oil or sulphates.
What motivates you to make sustainable products?
Our motivation comes from the sheer impact we can have from our factory, when you think about the amount of plastic we have saved as a business it’s quite surreal! Take our Laundry Liquid for example, we sell about 10,000 litres per month. That’s at least 10,000 bottles a month that we save from landfill just from one product! When you think about this impact it really keeps you motivated to keep pushing.
Is there anything special in your production methods that promote sustainability?
As a business, one of our main goals is to reduce waste, so the closed loop system of re-using the containers we supply to refill shops is very, very important to us. We have recently invested in a new cleaning machine that can clean and sanitise 30 20L jerrycans at a time, it’s like a huge washing machine! It also washes on a low heat which also helps reduce our energy output as a business.
What’s your personal favourite product from your range?
Hmm, that’s always a hard one!! I would have to say the Hair Shampoo, I personally struggle with scalp psoriasis and our shampoo has really helped to improve this. It has been designed for people with sensitive skin and I would now not use any other product on my hair!
What's your number one tip for living a low-impact lifestyle?
I always try and tell people to try and go completely zero waste for a week - it seriously makes you aware of how much waste you go through on a weekly basis and will help you live more consciously after that.
What's something you are working on outside of Miniml to live a more eco-friendly life?
Scott and I both cycle to work together (most days). As a business owner it can often be difficult to switch off so it’s a great way to relax, live a more eco-friendly life and great exercise too!
As mentioned a few times already, Miniml and The Bare Alternative work in a closed loop supply chain, but what does that mean?
When we place an order with Miniml, they deliver to us the cleaning products in 20L jerrycans. From here our customers dispense products into their own bottles they bring with them and once the jerrycans are empty we put them aside until the next delivery where they are then returned to be cleaned and refilled for a future order which could by us or a different Miniml stockist. The difference with using a closed loop, or circular supply chain, means that the empty jerrycans are reused over and over so not sent for recycling like with our previous suppliers, and we all know what plastic recycling means!
Since we made the move to make Miniml our main refill supplier, we have sold over 7 tonnes (yes, metric, so 7,000kgs) of liquid refills across home cleaning and personal care. This is about the same number of litres of liquid sold, but as the refill system in our shop works on weight, rather than volume, we focus on the number of kilograms sold.
All of this has been done with zero plastic waste as our customers bring bottles to refill, and through Miniml reusing the containers to deliver to us. But what's even better is that based on the average refill size, we expect that this means around 5,000 new plastic bottles have not had to be made to be used for a relatively short time, going to waste, likely not getting recycled, entering our water systems and finding a way to our oceans. That's a lot of bottles, and a massive reduction in raw materials, from just our one small shop, and every day that people choose to refill rather than buy a new bottle these numbers continue to grow and we are here to support that in the Refill Revolution.
Miniml is pushing this even further by now offering 200L refill barrels to stockists and we recently made the upgrade. They don't only look really good in the shop, but it has already become a welcome addition as it saves us having to change the 20L jerrycans as often, but most importantly, it helps us reduce the carbon footprint of our deliveries as we can now have a larger quantity delivered to us in one go and store it easier in the shop, all meaning fewer deliveries.
Miniml is very open about the ingredients they use in their products and make this information accessible rather than trying to hide it behind labels in the ingredient list as is typical with commercially available products. They are also happy to answer any questions that we have about their products or relay questions we receive from customers which is extra reassuring about the products we sell, and I would challenge anybody to get the same level of information from the manager of a national supermarket and the products that they sell in their stores.
Working with a smaller business like Miniml also means we have a much better working relationship and we know that they are always just a phone call away or a message in the support group where other stockists can connect. One major benefit of this is that it's easier to work together in both directions such as providing feedback from our customers. It also means that we have a direct line of contact with the manufacturer (not even just the distributor), and makes it possible for us to trace the supply chain right back to the ingredients and even their origin.
At The Bare Alternative, we are very grateful for the support that Miniml have provided us in general, but in particular, they really helped us out during the early parts of the pandemic by carrying on working just as hard as we did to continue supply chains and a steady flow of reusable bottles for us to be able to continue to provide liquid refills to customers. They even went well out of the way to make sure we got the bottles at very short notice.
If you are a Zero Waste / Refill Shop, Hair Salon, Green Grocer, or any type of business looking to increase, or even start offering refills, then get in touch with Miniml. They have supported our business and helped us move forward while supporting our ethos, and we are looking forward to some new products they are launching in the near future.
The full range of Miniml products we stock is available on our online store to order for click and collect. These refills are provided in returnable glass bottles, but of course, we encourage you to bring your empty bottle to the shop and enjoy refilling them yourself.
Thanks for reading and we hope you have learnt something more about one of our suppliers. It was great to feature a supplier that most people have something of in their shopping basket at the checkout, and thanks to Emma and the team at Miniml for all their work.
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