When it comes to packaging, brands have an ocean of choices: color, texture, shape, material, size, etc. And we all know how packaging is a key part of the customer experience and how it is determinant for them in the making a purchase decision process.
As the first consumers’ point of contact, each packaging component should be chosen carefully, it has to be aligned with the brand identity and be a storyteller. Sustainable packaging has become, since few years now, the future of packaging.
Plastic waste is one of the biggest worldwide challenge when it comes to preserve our planet and everybody is concerned. The Ellen MacArthur Foundation forecasts that by 2050 there could be as much plastic as fish in the oceans, if current trends continue. Among the 32 million tons of plastic waste per year, only 9% is recovered for recycling. But not only our planet is damaged, around 700 marine species could go extinct if we keep going this way.
Most countries have taken a step forward and banned free plastic bags in supermarkets to encourage consumers to take re-used bags instead. Taiwan has committed to go even further by prohibiting all single-use plastics by 2030, it means no more plastic cup, cutlery, etc. anywhere – restaurants, fast-foods, supermarkets and more.
Sustainable packaging strategies implemented by global brands
Now, it is time for brands to step up their game and adopt sustainable packaging. In the Food and Beverage industry, McDonald has announced last month its global sustainable commitment to provide 100% sustainable packaging to its customers by 2025 – come from renewable or recycled source. Dunkin Donuts, on its side, will use only recyclable and certified by the Sustainable Forestry Initiative Standards cups by 2020.
Personal care and cosmetics brands are concerned by the change too. Not only because consumers are requesting it, but also because saving our planet is a concern for all of us. Since few years, L’Oréal, has driven several initiatives to improve their product packaging’s eco-design. Encouraging their suppliers to use eco-friendly materials, internal teams to find new ways to design packaging and products but also other personal care and cosmetic businesses to think about new ways to reduce their plastic waste footprint. In May 2018, L’Oréal and Quantis have launched SPICE – the Sustainable Packaging Initiative for CosmEtics, a collaboration of cosmetic industry players – such as Coty, Chanel, Shiseido, Avon, etc. with a common goal of reinventing the packaging of tomorrow on a sustainable way.
Lush cosmetics is also a good example when it comes to sustainable packaging, encouraging their customers to bring back their empty boxes in order to get a free face mask. They have also launched in 2010, their “knot-wraps” where they use re-usable scarves instead of paper to wrap customers’ gifts.
On the same way, Sephora – only in France for now, encourages its customers to bring back their empty perfume bottles to get a 20% discount on their next purchase. Empty bottles are then recovered for recycling. Kiehl’s, Origins, Mac or even Avedo have initiate similar approaches.
Sustainable packaging: yes but how?
Several options can be use by brands in order to provide a sustainable packaging to consumers and then help to reduce plastic waste:
- No packaging at all. E.g. Lush cosmetics sells 35% of their products naked, 100% packaging free.
- Reduce quantity of material used: prefer lighter packaging. E.g. Chanel latest perfume bottle.
- Better quality: use recycled, easy-to-recycle, low-consumption to produce and/or certified raw materials. E.g. In 2016, L’Oréal has used more than 7,000 tons of post-consumer recycled packaging (PCR) materials.
- Design re-usable/refillable boxes or bottles. E.g. L’occitane offer refill pouches for most of their best-selling product.
- Encourage customers to give back their used empty boxes or bottles. E.g. Lush, Sephora, Kiehl’s, etc.
Many others options could be take into consideration by brands and major groups but the first step is always the harder to make. You should start somewhere.
Lascom CPG solution can help you design your packaging from raw material sourcing to artwork. Please feel free to learn more about us here.