Refill Pouch Market Success Story

Join us in discovering how refill pouches have taken over the shelves in Japan.


Where there is ZACROS, there is a way.


ZACROS was one of the first to introduce the refill concept into the market, setting trends in personal and home care products since the 1990s. Our approach launched the spread of refill culture, marking the start of a global trend.


Pouches in Japan's Grocery Store
Figure 1: Pouches in Japan’s Grocery Store


Over the last two decades, the demand for personal and home care products has soared in Japan, yet refill and replace concept had led to a 42% reduction in packaging material consumption (shown in the chart below). This reduction not only cuts costs but minimizes the environmental footprints.


Refill pouch historical plastic use
Figure 2: Refill Pouch Historical Plastic Use. Data sourced from JSDA. Plastic usage amounts from 1995-2018. Accessed 2023.


Japan’s Battle with Plastic Waste

In Japan, managing plastic waste is a significant challenge despite its rich waste management system and cooperations from the public. The country grapples with high per plastic consumption, making it necessary to implement more innovative polices for this sustainable society.

While Japan ranks second globally in the Plastic Management Index (PMI), behind Germany. Its strengths are their impressive PET bottle collection and recycling rates: 93% for collection and about 86% for recycling in 2019. Both businesses and local government actively contribute to this effort through specialty trash cans and collection boxes.



PET bottle collection and recycling rates
Figure 3: PET Bottle Collection and Recyling Rates.



Despite these great strides, Japan faces hurdles in fighting plastic pollution. The volume of plastic waste surged to about four million tons in 2019, massively impacting global plastic pollution. Japan stands second in per capita plastic waste emissions among Asian nations. The average Japanese uses around 450 plastic shopping bags annually – 11 times more than Indonesia and 17 times more than the UK!


Government Regulation Fuels Expansion of Refill Pouches

Government regulation pushed the expansion of refill pouches. One of the most distinguished laws was in 1997 and was called the Containers and Packaging Recycling Law.

This law has been partially enforced since 1997, and it requires manufacturers (brands) to pay a recycling fee based on the amount of containers and packaging used in the products they sell. This law encourages many brand owners to lightweight their packaging, aligning perfectly with ZACROS’ commitment to sustainability.

It seems like brand owners already were planning on making this switch, new government regulation gave them the extra push that they needed. Kao, one of the largest personal and home care brands in Japan, is an excellent example. As you can in the graph from Kao’s website below, this push really shifted how personal care products have been packaged.


Figure 4: Ratio of Products Converted into Refills. Data sourced from Kao. Ratio of products converted into refills from 1995-2022. Accessed 2023.


Launching Sustainable Practices: The Refill Pouch Evolution

The inception of our Flowpack presented many challenges that required dedication and extensive experiments. However, at ZACROS, giving up is never an option! We believe that every challenge has a solution, it is all about persevering. Over three years of dedication resulted in achieving the leak-proof quality that defined Flowpack as one of ZACROS’ flagship products. This breakthrough proved our manufacturing capabilities and marked the beginning of a shift in the market.

Flowpack’s evolution stands as a testament to the nonstop efforts and passion of our employees. Today, we produce over 500 million leak-proof refill pouches annually, proving our commitment to sustainable advances.


Flexible Pouches

Are you interested in flexible pouches? ZACROS has manufactured flexible pouches for home and personal care products for over 25 years. ZACROS provides a wide range of flexible pouches, from a spoutless laminated pouch to a monomaterial spout pouch. We assist with material selections and designs to filling assist. Contact us today to learn more about sustainable refill pouch options.



Institute for Global Environmental Strategies. “Plastic Atlas Asia 2022.” Institute for Global Environmental Strategies,

Japan Soft Drink Association. “Homepage.” Japan Soft Drink Association,

Kao Corporation. “Refill Replacements.” Kao Corporation,