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The Next Economy
Algramo Brings Refillable, Waste-Free Cleaning Products to NYC

In partnership with major brands and small business owners, Algramo gives consumers a better way to refill household-name cleaning products from through a cost effective, smart dispensing system.

Today, Algramo — a Chile-based startup eliminating product packaging waste through its refill machines for staple household products, “by the gram” — has launched its first United States-based refill vending machine pilots in multiple locations across New York City. The pilots represent the first step in Algramo’s expansion into North America; and will provide invaluable insights to accelerate the next generation of modern, convenient, environmentally and cost-conscious refill systems that advance the future of retail. 

Reusable packaging is a critical part of building a more circular economy. Algramo’s refill system also allows customers to purchase cleaning products at an affordable price — making the sustainable option more affordable, equitable and convenient.

“Algramo is on the forefront of a new retail experience; their tech-enabled refill system optimizes the customer experience and meets the growing demand from customers for convenient, accessible and waste-free solutions,” says Bridget Croke, Algramo Board Member and Managing Director at Closed Loop Partners, which is bringing Algramo to the US. “We are seeing a lot of market demand for this solution.”

Algramo launched in Chile in 2012 with a goal of solving an often-overlooked problem impacting millions of low-resource families in South America and beyond: the poverty tax — a market failure that occurs when under-resourced consumers buy products in smaller, more “affordable” formats and end up paying up to 40 percent more for products. Through a partnership with Unilever for the South American market, Algramo solves the poverty tax with a combination store-based and mobile vending service that enables families to buy the exact quantity of products they need at bulk prices. The service already operates in over 2,000 family-owned stores that reach over 325,000 end-customers in Santiago, Chile. This year, Algramo expanded to the US and was selected to join Newlab’s Circular City Studio — which empowers urban tech startups to help make New York more equitable, livable, and resilient.

For its US pilots, Algramo has partnered with Clorox and Colgate-Palmolive, to scale up the zero-waste distribution of common household cleaning and personal care products.

“Colgate-Palmolive has committed to eliminate plastic waste by designing and delivering circular and alternative solutions for our products,” says Emily Fong Mitchell, General Manager of Personal Care North America at Colgate-Palmolive. “We are excited to partner with Algramo on this pilot as we work to achieve our ambition.”

The various Algramo refill systems will dispense cleaning products including Clorox Splash-less Cleaning Bleach and Pine-Sol Multi-Surface Cleaner, Softsoap Liquid Hand Soap, and hand sanitizer from EcoLogic Solutions — starting at Essex Market in Manhattan’s Lower East Side, Building 77 at the Brooklyn Navy Yard and The Laundry in BK beginning this month, with a goal of expanding throughout the city and beyond.

Algramo is working to optimize customer experience, cost competitiveness and ease of integration at small businesses, while showing a measurable reduction of waste. The business model is likely to appeal to more discerning New York consumers — who have already made reusable packaging platforms such as Loop a success in the area. And Algramo’s digitally operated, low-contact system meets rigorous health and safety standards, minimizing the various touch points between customers and their purchasing of a product and getting it home — especially critical as COVID-19 continues to rage on.