Approximately 50 percent of plastic packaging is thrown away, and more than 8 million tons of plastic are dumped in our oceans every year. While there’s a global movement to reduce plastic waste, these efforts often exclude lower-income communities. For these communities, buying staple items in bulk is prohibitively expensive, forcing them to purchase in smaller containers, more often—exacerbating the plastic waste problem and forcing low-resource families to pay significantly more, on a per-unit basis, for their products.
Algramo tackles both these issues with its reusable packaging system, enabling anyone to buy in bulk—providing cost savings to customers and reducing plastic waste. Algramo’s system includes three key components: reusable containers with radio-frequency identification (RFID) chips to facilitate payment; Internet of Things (IoT)-connected vending machines to dispense products in bulk; and electric tricycles to deliver product refills.
Customers transfer funds onto a digital wallet that is connected to their reusable packaging, which enables cashless purchases from IoT-connected vending machines. This system literally transfers value onto the packaging, so customers are incentivized to take care of it. Algramo's distribution system enables brands to digitally verify how much plastic is offset by reuse. When customers need new products, they simply page an Algramo tricycle for at-home refill.
About 20 percent of products sold in single-use packaging can be sold in reusable packaging systems, creating an approximately $10 billion opportunity. Algramo’s reusable packaging system saves low-resource families about 30 percent on the cost of daily essentials—while eliminating packaging waste. In comparison to its biggest competitor, Algramo has eliminated reverse logistics, which results in major cost savings.
Algramo currently seeks:
- Investment partners for its Series A round;
- Research and expertise on the health implications of more accessible fast-moving consumer goods; and
- Guidance on how to build a distribution system that uses AI to balance convenience, exceptional user experience, and cost savings.
Some of Algramo’s notable achievements include:
- Being a founding member of the United Nations Green Technology Startup Initiative;
- Jose Manuel Moller’s selection as an Ashoka Fellow, a World Economic Forum Global Shaper and Young Global Leader, and a TED Fellow;
- Selection as an Expo 2020 Dubai Global Innovator; and
- Receiving a 2018 Deloitte D2international Fellowship.
Algramo currently partners with:
- Consumer packaged goods brands Unilever, Omo laundry detergent, and Quix dish soap;
- Nestle to sell Purina Dog and Cat Chow; and
- Cisco, whose circularity programs are providing a $100,000 innovation grant and in-kind AI and IoT expertise.
Algramo’s system connects to 2,000 family-owned convenience stores, reaching approximately 325,000 customers.
Reducing Plastic Waste with a Reusable Packaging System
Solver Algramo received the $50,000 AI Innovations Prize from Members Patrick J. McGovern Foundation and Schmidt Futures in 2019 to build a high-tech reusable packaging system to counter plastic waste.
Reducing Plastic Waste with Reusable Packaging
Solver Algramo, which built a high-tech reusable packaging system to counter plastic waste, received a $10,000 grant from Solve in 2019 for being selected as a Circular Economy Solver.