Renata Alessio is the co-founder of RIS Cosmetics, and a finalist in this year’s European Social Innovation Competition, creating innovative solutions to tackle the issue of plastic waste.

During our masters programme in Innovation and Entrepreneurship, we needed to do an entrepreneurial project. We started out as 3 friends from different 3 different continents; America, Africa, and Asia, but with the same passion to tackle the issue of plastic waste.

In my case, being a designer, I saw that the efforts to tackle single-plastic waste such as banning reusable bags and plastic straws wasn’t enough in the fight against micro plastics. Seeing how available and cheap the use of plastics is everywhere, and realising the fact that there weren’t many solutions that seemed effective replacements (especially for liquids) we saw as an opportunity to unite our collective knowledge, to come up with solutions for the single-use plastic waste, which was frustrating for us all.

As we also had the same interest in the beauty industry, we also felt frustrated that there was not an impactful solution to the industry’s plastic waste problem, noting that majority of beauty products available are packaged in plastic and are single use only too.

We felt that as consumers as well as innovators, we should be the ones to try and find a solution for the industry’s plastic waste problem.

Adding skills to the group and developing our business plan

Once we established that we wanted to work on single-use plastics and focusing on cosmetics, another friend of ours from the master, Martin, joined our team. Martin already had experience in the field and was also passionate about the issues of plastic waste.

We started brainstorming ideas and gathering different contacts and reliable sources, until we came up with the idea of developing single-use shampoo marbles, packaged with zero plastic waste.

We worked extensively in our business model and we finished with the idea of sales process of both B2C or B2B customers.

We are reaching B2C customers by selling online, through a subscription model with the possibility of refilling the bottles with more shampoo marbles. By directly reaching our consumers, we aim to make an impact by spreading the plastic waste awareness through direct customer contact.

Though our B2B process, we are selling our shampoo marbles to accommodation providers, such as eco-resorts. We will fight plastic waste faster by selling via B2B since there are far more users in accommodations, still using single-use plastic through the use of the amenities provided in the accommodations.

Joining The European Social Innovation Competition

By far the best part of the Competition was participating in the Academy and meeting the other competitors. The Academy provided lots of resources that allowed us to further develop our product and service, while also strengthen ideas that weren’t so strong before.

Overall, this experience transcends the idea of the monetary prize, as meeting the other semi-finalist allowed us to open our minds to what is being made in the world and to create a great network of people, working towards the same goal, eliminating plastic waste! In this way, the general feeling was of cooperation and support. Even though we are all competitors, we still support each other and our different ideas, and it is a great feeling to know that we are all fighting against for same thing and trying to make the world a better place to live.