Many brands in the beauty industry are looking to suppliers for more eco-optimal packaging and sustainable practices. Consumer demand lies at the heart of many of these packaging launches and facility or process upgrades. Apart from the increasing influence of eco conscious consumers, cost efficiencies throughout the supply chain also remain a key motivator for brands investigating sustainable options in everything from materials to manufacturing processes.
In talking with numerous suppliers, brands and agencies for this article, we plotted a number of current trends.
For one, there seems to be a general feeling that environmental concerns regarding packaging are currently of greater interest in Western European nations, where sustainability is more widely regarded as a positive social behavior—and where there are also more related standards. Also, and as expected, many of the brands/products that offer “sustainable packaging” are those that have a “natural” DNA. But the list is growing all the time—and whether the brands are large or small, global or local, many are taking advantage of supplier innovation like that which we describe here.
A quick look at beauty shelves shows that efforts toward re-thinking the earth’s health have come a long way. A vast number of packages, whether plastic or paperboard, now bear symbols such as the recycling icon—perhaps the greatest sign that brands have responded en masse. More and more, the story of products and their packaging is being told on the primary or secondary container. Suppliers say that environmentally related requests often vary depending on the size of the brand.
For instance, Joanna Milne, sales manager, Virospack, based in Spain, says, “From the larger brands, the requests are more of sustainable production practices versus the actual packaging, unless they are a renowned name for environmentally friendly products.” Whereas from the smaller brands, Milne says it is the other way around. “They want to present a fully sustainable product and don’t inquire too much about the actual production practices.” She says there is definitely an increase in demand, especially in the West European markets “because being eco-friendly is a positive social feature.”
Milne says that many brands start off with green ingredients and then search for sustainable packaging where appropriate, because product compatibility and costs are still a priority for most brands when it comes to primary packaging.
“We observe that there are more and more small brands in the Ecocert and vegan [categories], and they are requesting the use of materials certified by Ecocert or similar organizations—not only that the materials used are recycled, also that all components are recyclable, even if the end user will never be able to disassemble the packaging to distribute it correctly,” explains Milne.
At SGD, Sheherazade Chamlou, vice president sales and marketing, perfumery division, says they, too, have been experiencing increased demand for sustainable packaging.“Many brands in the beauty industry are focusing on tailoring their strategies and products toward more eco-optimal solutions,” says Chamlou. “The demand for resource efficiency, green materials, and effective waste management is growing.”
Packaging papers are often a key concern of brands, and Mark Sng, director of marketing, Neenah Packaging, says “Today, having a sustainable offering is a given, so yes, we are experiencing an increased demand which is proportionate to the overall increase in demand we are seeing for Neenah’s premium packaging papers and materials.” He says most marketers and brands now incorporate environmental attributes into their premium packaging designs as an integral part of their design and product development process. (This includes such things as choosing papers made from renewable resources, papers made with recycled content, increasing the post consumer waste content, decreasing the footprint of their package or box, and the use of sustainable print techniques.)
“Increasingly,” says Sng, “brands want to understand the sustainability practices of their suppliers along the entire chain of custody, and will choose their partners accordingly.”
Rosalyn Bandy, senior sustainability manager at Avery Dennison Label & Packaging Materials, explains why they are seeing a strong growth trend in this area. “If you look around at the majority of beauty companies, nearly all have sustainability goals and metrics; packaging and labeling are a major component of those initiatives. There is an increased emphasis on the recyclability of containers to help make more of an impact on these goals. Manufacturers are also looking at recycled content for both packaging and labeling.”
As some suppliers see an increase in demand for “green” packages, many still see buyers struggling with cost constraints. While Wendi Caraballo, marketing manager, Essel Propack Americas, LLC, says they are seeing an increase in demand for sustainable packaging “as the U.S. pushes for companies to go green,” utilizing sustainable materials can often be more expensive than traditional packaging. “The higher costing of sustainable packaging can deter many companies from using ‘green’ packaging and continue to use conventional packaging,” she says.
Some practices that seemed effective at first have proven otherwise with experience. For instance RockTenn’s Kimbrough now Asiabelieves, “The future of sustainable packaging lies in the use of renewable and recyclable materials.” She says that in the past, improved sustainability many times was defined in terms of packaging reduction, as success was easily measured through a reduction in weight. “By focusing on that single metric, however,” she explains, “many of our customers developed ‘sustainable’ packages that were unsuccessful in store—i.e., that were too small, which reduced shelf presence and impacted sales and their brands’ success.”
That, she says, was obviously not the answer. “We are now seeing an interest from our customers to develop packaging that maintains on-shelf appeal, but includes improved sustainability characteristics. This involves our customers using their packaging to highlight the overall sustainability of their entire product by investigating the use of renewable and recyclable materials, and specialty inks, coatings and enhancements that provide reduced environmental impact,” Kimbrough explains.
There’s no doubt that brands are more thoroughly examining practices as well as packages for their sustainability levels throughout the entire supply chain. At glass bottle and container decorator, Decotech, Inc., Richard Engel, president and COO, tells us: “Clients are beginning to look beyond just the packaging material for sustainability or recyclability. They are beginning to ask questions about the environmental impacts of the manufacturing practices that went into making the product.”
The Future of Sustainable Packaging
Where does most of the promise lie in terms of the future of packaging in the beauty world—and elsewhere? In summary,
Sustainable practices may become ••part of more brands’ DNA.
Pricing may not play such a critical ••role when making packaging choices.
Finding suitable material replacements ••will be key to meaningful change.
Overall, Quadpack’s Reguill, says, “Ethical and environmental audits are an increasing requirement of multinationals when selecting their suppliers. They, in turn, are being driven by consumer demand for earth-friendly products and fair and sustainable practices. Step by step, the beauty industry is becoming a market where environmental needs and commercial goals are converging. And that is good news for everyone—including the planet.”
Refilling: Thierry Mugler Unveils Angel—‘The New Star’ Thierry Mugler’s 75ml refillable fragrance, Angel—“The New Star” Eau de Parfum ($150), pays homage to fine glassmaking. This three-dimensional star captures light with its countless facets, creating unprecedented surprise effects. Bringing this product to life required a highly technical know-how and cutting edge technology to achieve its complex geometry and balanced design.
All Angel stars can be filled again at the Parfums Mugler Source or using the line’s Eco-Source refill. Part of the Mugler brand’s eco-responsible approach, this simple act gives new value to the bottle and enhances its aesthetic dimension. It also promotes a special relationship between the customer and beauty advisor at the point of sale. Unlike discarding the bottle or purchasing an identical one, refilling gives the precious bottle new life.
MuLondon’s Packaging Reflects Its Eco-Friendly DNA
MuLondon’s multitasking moisturizer uses glass jar as its container. According to Boris Zatezic, founder and ‘head cream-whipper,’ the glass preserves the contents of MuLondon moisturizers without reacting with the oil-based product. “I love using the transparent glass material so that our customers can see the natural variation in the color of the moisturizers, which vary depending on the natural herbal extracts used,” he added.
The jars’ lids are made of aluminum, with a brushed steel-look finish. The product is a proprietary blend of highly stable natural vegetable oils, herbal extracts and flower essences, which work together to naturally extend the shelf life of the product—and the water-free formula is not prone to degradation.
For MuLondon’s foaming facial cleansers, Zatezic chose a plastic bottle with a self-foaming pump and a frosted white cap. Cleanser bottles are fully recyclable HDPE plastic, and are free from phthalates, bisphenol-A and PVC. Product labels for the moisturizers are printed on glossy photo-quality paper, while the cleansers have a water-resistant plastic label that is laminated. Zatezic is looking at printing the labels on laminated material, to provide extra protection. In addition, only biodegradable bubble wrap is used to protect the items in transit, and recycles packaging boxes and other materials from suppliers. Products ship in boxes that are appropriately sized for each individual order.
Aveda Packaging Combines PCR with Bioplastic
Aveda, known for setting an example for environmental leadership and responsibility in the beauty industry, says it is now the first beauty company to combine PCR and bioplastic in a plastic tube. Aveda uses 100% post-consumer recycled (PCR) material as often as possible, but when this is not an option, the brand has started to combine PCR with bioplastic to use less virgin petrochemical plastic. This new packaging has launched with the Aveda Dry Remedy moisturizing conditioner and moisturizing masque tubes.
Mike Kennedy, vice president of package development, Aveda, says, “After years of research and testing, Aveda has two of the best possible developments for product containers available: 100% PCR in HDPE retail bottles and now this breakthrough PCR and bioplastic combined technology which we’re starting to use for tubes.”
The bioplastic that Aveda uses is made primarily from sugarcane ethanol, a sustainable and quickly renewable resource. Aveda says it is proud to have been the first beauty company using 100% post-consumer recycled PET. Now, more than 85% of its skin and hair styling PET bottles and jars contain 100% PCR materials. They say they also forego cartons whenever possible and never add elements solely for the sake of aesthetics.
For tubes, great progress has been made in terms of environmentally responsible materials and processes. Suppliers and brands have gotten creative with offering sustainable benefits, which is the case with a recent project accomplished through Essel Propack working with their customer Tom’s of Maine. According to Essel Propack, one interesting thing when partnering with Tom’s of Maine is to reuse all of the brand’s scrap material that accumulates during the tube printing process. Tom’s of Maine uses a third party company called TerraCycle that takes its printed scrap and turns it into colorful tote bags that are sold in specialty grocery stores.
All of Origin’s printed materials are printed on recycled paper. Cartons are made from 50% Forest Stewardship Council certified paperboard with 50% post-consumer recycled fiber. These paperboards and cartons are manufactured using wind power or hydropower, both renewable energy resources.
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