Durban Company Revolutionizes Physical Retail

The future of retail is here – and it’s more cost-effective, more sustainable and proudly South African

 Barrows Global launches the world’s first circular retail display, which is up to 20% more cost effective for brands and has a 37% carbon saving

 Barrows Global, a leading retail design and manufacturer, has launched the first promotional display fit for a circular economy, the PolyAl unit. Barrows’ challenge was to design a temporary display that could meet the requirements of the dynamic and ever-changing in-store environment, while using resources efficiently and eliminating waste.

Unlike most temporary displays, which are made of corrugated board and plastic with a lifespan of 4-6 weeks, the Barrows’ PolyAl unit addresses wastage by using a permanent upcycled core structure that is regularly recladded with a new brand campaign. The result? A reusable unit that requires up to 90% less corrugated board than traditional temporary displays. PolyAl units are revolutionising physical retail as brands that rent these displays enjoy a 37%[1] carbon saving and up to a 20% cost saving.

The upcycled core

Barrows was approached to find a second life for the material ‘PolyAl’, made from the plastic (polyethylene) and aluminium layers of post-consumer long-life liquid cartons that Tetra Pak and Gayatri Paper Mills are diverting from landfill. After a year of R&D, in partnership with Perspex SA, Barrows was able to manufacture a PolyAl core upcycled from 3500 long-life cartons, hence the name the PolyAl display. This reusable core is customisable with adjustable shelving, allowing for varied product heights and sizes. It is shipped flat-packed to retailers and is designed to be easily assembled and disassembled for end-of-life recycling.

 How it all works

Barrows design, manufacture and install the PolyAl displays at zero-cost to the retailer. The core units are asset tracked and Barrows takes responsibility for the maintenance of the units, which are uplifted and recycled into new displays at the end of 24 months.

Brands book space in-store with the retailer and rent the displays from Barrows on a monthly basis. The rental includes cladding design, distribution and installation, and all previous campaign cladding is recycled. Due to a closed-loop supply chain, Barrows ensures a hassle-free, fast and high quality brand activation with zero waste to landfill – leaving brands the time to do what they do best.

PolyAl launched in Dis-Chem

“Retailers own the space that the displays occupy and their buy-in for this concept is critical,” says Joss Myers, MD Barrows Africa. Dis-Chem, a leading South African drug retailer, is the first to adopt the programme. The first 505 PolyAl displays have just been installed in Dis-Chem stores nationwide. These units have diverted 1.8 million long-life cartons from landfill and by the end of the year this number is expected to reach 3.5 million as the programme grows with Dis-Chem. “The response from our store managers and customers has been overwhelmingly positive,” says Mark Norton, Group Marketing Manager at Dis-Chem. “Freestanding display units are vital to our business, as they are designed to attract consumers and move stock quickly. Not only are the PolyAl displays made from recycled materials, but they are fully recyclable, which aligns with Dis-Chem’s commitment to be more environmentally responsible.” The first brands supporting the programme include the Dis-Chem house brand Greener Living, Unilever’s multibrand Spring Clean, Red Bull and Celltone Skin Care.

Get involved!

“In light of our current environmental crisis, many brands and retailers are becoming increasingly committed to reducing their environmental impact,” explains Jenna Bleloch, Head of Sustainability at Barrows Global. “The PolyAl units are an in-store solution that is consistent with these goals.”

The Barrows’ vision is to divert 35 million long-life cartons from landfill in PolyAl units. This fleet of 10 000 reusable displays is estimated to save 360 thousand kilograms of carbon.

Join Barrows to be a part of this responsible retail revolution by visiting  for more information.

To see the story behind PolyAl, go to