Green packaging developments and demand are on the increase in the beauty industry despite the slow recovery from recession, as MJ Deschamps discovers
Green packaging developments and demand are on the increase in the beauty industry despite the slow recovery from recession, as MJ Deschamps discovers
With waste regulations becoming increasingly tight worldwide, and consumers’ environmental consciousness growing, the global personal care products industry has taken note of the lean towards ‘green’, and is starting to reduce packaging complexity.
This is despite leading organic products marketing research firm Organic Monitor recently releasing a not-so-optimistic report on sustainable packaging in the beauty sector – saying that although packaging has the highest environmental footprint within the realm of cosmetics products, it appears to be largely ignored when beauty companies look at sustainability. Indeed many cosmetics companies, both large and small, seem determined to disprove that claim.
Greater consumer awareness about waste disposal and more stringent government regulations will, according to market research group Global Industry Analysts (GIA), drive the global market for sustainable packaging to US$142.42bn in size by 2015. The GIA’s 2010 report, Sustainable (Green) Packaging: A Global Strategic Business Report, identifies the cosmetics and personal care industry as being a key driving force in growing sustainable packaging.
The report says that together Europe and the US account for more than 70% of the global sustainable packaging market and in the US alone recycled material accounts for the largest packaging category, contributing nearly 90% to the total demand.
Meanwhile another recent report from Colorado-based Pike Research goes further by suggesting that the sustainable packaging market is growing much faster than the general packaging industry. Its size is expected to double from $88bn last year to $170bn in 2014, says Pike. Market research firm Mintel has also identified that recycling and eco-friendly materials will play a major role within the beauty industry in 2011, having seen new skin care products with environmentally friendly packaging increase 5% last year, compared to 2009.
“In general terms, all cosmetics manufacturers are looking at packaging which is sustainable and has fewer environmental effects,” says Paul Crawford, head of regulatory and environmental services at the Cosmetic, Toiletry & Perfumery Association (CTPA) in the UK.
One popular sustainable material being used in the green packaging sector today is recycled polyethylene terephthalate (PET). PET has been a favourite choice for personal care product packaging due to its similarities with glass, and because it is a 100% recyclable material.
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The National Association for PET Container Resources (NAPCOR) came out with a study in 2010 that provides lifecycle inventory (LCI) data for recycled PET and high density polyethylene (HDPE) plastic resins. The study’s LCI report indicates that incorporating recycled PET resin in the manufacture of a package significantly reduces the environmental footprint of that package in terms of production energy required and greenhouse gas emissions.
The study also found that recycled PET actually requires less energy to produce than the equivalent tonnage of virgin PET resin. The corresponding saving in greenhouse gas emissions amounts to about 1.1 million tonnes of CO² equivalents, according to the study.
Although there is growing research in bioplastics packaging, there is still a challenge to creating these materials for the cosmetics industry, since high heat sensitivity and water permeability prevent such packaging being used for products such as creams, lotions and shampoos, according to Organic Monitor.
Several companies are paving the way though, including US-based Mirel, which is currently developing bioplastic materials to replace petroleum polymers such as polypropylene (PP), high-density polyethylene (HDPE), acrylonitrile butadiene styrene (ABS) and polycarbonate (PC). Another is one of the UK’s leading suppliers of packaging containers, Johnsen & Jorgensen, which recently entered into a distribution deal with Artenius PET Packaging UK to release an environmentally friendly range of recycled PET bottles for the cosmetics industry, which use 25% post-consumer recycled PET material. UK-based Neal’s Yard Remedies is also currently using ‘post-consumer regrind polyethylene’ (PCR) terephthalate bottles for a number of its natural and organic personal care products.
Also, US-based Banana Packaging, another worldwide supplier specialising in biodegradable cosmetics packaging, has recently introduced a new biodegradable product line called EcoBlendz, where packaging products are made from a special additive that when blended with many plastic-based resins such as PE, PET, PS, PP, PVC and PETG, renders them 100% biodegradable.
Brazil-based Braskem has also recently developed a sugarcane polyethylene packaging material that is garnering an increasingly high profile in the beauty industry on account of the fact that it is compatible with a variety of liquid formulations.The material is already being used by key Brazil cosmetics player Natura for a cream hand soap product, while Procter & Gamble (P&G) has included it as part of the packaging for products in its Pantene Pro V hair care range as well as its CoverGirl and Max Factor colour cosmetic ranges.
DuPont sustainability study identifies packaging challenges
The need to package food, consumer and industrial products in a more sustainable and affordable way dominates the worldwide packaging industry, according to DuPont’s global survey of consumer packaged goods companies and packaging converters.
To identify the top issues facing the packaging industry, DuPont conducted an online survey of packaging professionals in March 2011. More than 500 packaging professionals were surveyed and over 40% cited sustainability as the toughest challenge while 33% named cost as a major factor.
“Sustainable, cost effective solutions that reduce packaging’s environmental footprint are a top goal across geographies,” said Bill Harvey, president, DuPont Packaging & Industrial Polymers.
Meeting sustainability challenges requires multiple strategies. Of those respondents working on sustainable packaging:
65% say their efforts are focused on design for recyclability or use of recycled content
57% are focused on weight reduction
41% rely on renewable or biobased materials
25% say they are focused on compostable materials.
“These survey results confirm that there are many pathways to improving packaging sustainability,” said Harvey. “It starts with close collaboration throughout the value chain to spark innovation.”
In a bid to respond to requirements, DuPont Packaging & Industrial Polymers says it offers customers a number of ways to enhance the sustainability of their products. For example, DuPont Fusabond resins are modified polymers that help bond dissimilar polymers to help facilitate recycling. The high-performance characteristics of the company’s Surlyn ionomer help reduce the total amount of material in packaging structures. And DuPont’s Biomax Strong modifier is designed to helps bio-based PLA (polylactic acid) products gain more widespread use by enhancing performance attributes that limit its acceptance. Meanwhile Biomax PTT resin, with up to 35% renewably sourced content, can replace petroleum-derived polyesters to help reduce dependence on fossil fuels and net emissions of greenhouse gases without compromising performance, according to the company.
Robert Richman is the chairman and manufacturing head at US company Be Green Packaging, whose packaging products are made up of blends of plant fibres and 100% compostable and recyclable materials. He says Be Green recently produced new packaging in the UK and Europe for Procter & Gamble’s Gillette Fusion ProGlide razors, and that the main green packaging innovations his company and others are currently moving towards incorporate plant fibres and eco-friendly coatings. “These [ProGlide] packages have a major reduction of PET and plastic resins,” said Richman. Be Green’s products are blends of plant fibres and are 100% compostable and recyclable.
EcoBlendz by Banana Packaging has an additive that renders materials 100% biodegradable
In the same vein, US-based cosmetics company Urban Decay partnered with HCT Packaging to create the brand’s Sustainable Shadow Box, a compact made from bamboo. And America’s Tarte Cosmetics developed a reusable Spring Greening palette made from recyclable, sustainable straw. It also uses soy ink on its labels, which contains non-toxic soybean oil that can be easily stripped from paper during the de-inking and recycling process. Tarte has also created a system where consumers can even send their empty containers back to the company and get a discount off their next purchase.
In Italy, Leoplast, the country’s specialist in botanical-derived packaging for decorative cosmetics, recently decided to put together cardboard and bioplastics, two renewable raw materials, to design a line called Compostable Make Up. Cardboard is used for the base and cover while plant-derived plastic forms the internal mechanism and the cups containing the powders, resulting in a 100% plant-derived and biodegradable packaging.
“It is a unique combining solution for a sustainable pack from raw material made from vegetal and renewable origins,” says Marie-Laure Viellard, PR and communication manager at the Leoplast Group.
Twistub – let’s twist again
Twistub – created as a refillable environmentally friendly alternative to pump dispensers – has evolved, according to its makers. The original Twistub’s USP lay in its combining the financial and environmental benefits of a refill with the glamorous look and feel of traditional high-end packaging. Featuring a dispenser plus a refill pack, the system is operated by twisting the base to dispense a precise amount of cream or lotion. Once the product has been used, the consumer can buy a new refill and reuse the dispenser again and again.
Now, the team behind Twistub says it has improved the handling of the packaging by introducing a nozzle, meaning that the dispenser can be used for different types of cosmetic creams and lotions. The basics, however, remain the same, as do the main benefits, which include savings in both manufacturing costs and material usage when compared to traditional pump dispensers and airless systems.
“Eco-friendly retail is becoming increasingly cool, with consumers looking for different ways to play their part, while manufacturers are all facing unprecedented pressure to reduce plastic waste from their processes,” said Stephen Eldred, a founder of Twistub. “The latest developments for Twistub make it even more attractive to both customers and cosmetic companies. We are still keen to engage with as many cosmetic companies as possible now to give us the best chance of getting Twistub to where it belongs – on the shelf and in people’s homes.”
Viellard admits that while companies are looking towards moving to green packaging it is not always easy, especially post-recession. “The interest is there and companies are trying to invest in R&D but it’s expensive,” she says. But Viellard adds that despite cost, Leoplast has been investigating green packaging solutions since 2004. “Global demand for [sustainable packaging] is driven by single use packaging building up in all of the world’s environments,” she says. “From plastic bags blowing in the wind to the huge garbage slicks in the oceans, package awareness is growing everywhere.”
From this summer, in western Europe, P&G will use sugar-based HDPE from Braskem to package its Pantene Pro-V Nature Fusion hair care products
Be Green’s Richman agrees, adding that while recovery from the recession is now underway, rising prices in recycled materials are not of great concern to his company. “We are finding that business is better than ever as the world is now more aware of sustainable packaging,” he says. “[Be Green] is receiving many calls from new cosmetics companies all the time who want to move away from foam and plastics,” he says.
Viellard says that while prices for recycled materials are rising, the price of fossil plastics are rising as well. Because of this, companies are often actually getting more bang for their buck by developing bioplastics and recycled materials for their packaging, she explains.
UK company Curtis Packaging has recognised this and announced a boost to its R&D programme at the beginning of 2011 to concentrate on bringing the latest eco-friendly technology to beauty packaging while retaining consumer appeal.
“Last year, we installed a new system which reduced our waste collection – all for recycling – by 80%, as well as sophisticated systems through our sister company, 3D Creative – to create samples and trial runs which substantially cut the environmental impact, and indeed costs for many clients,” says Steve Mallet, sales director at Curtis.
A recent Curtis project was with UK designer Orla Kiely, who last year introduced a fragrance range. The product’s sustainable cartons were printed on the reverse of an FSC (Forest Stewardship Council) accredited material, using vegetable-based ink and a water-based coating.
Looking for sustainable solutions to packaging certainly opens up the door for a lot of innovative, eco-friendly solutions. The Twistub, for example, uses a revolutionary and environmentally aware packaging/refill concept for cosmetic creams. The package comes in two parts, a dispenser and a refill pack. Twisting the base of the pot dispenses a precise amount of the cream through a small aperture in the top of the refill, and when empty, the Twispak can then be replaced and the dispenser reused again and again.
US-based Burt’s Bees has long made a firm commitment to only use packaging made from recycled materials and recently pioneered the use of TerraSkin Wraps, an alternative to paper packaging for soaps that is a treeless and bleach-free paper alternative. TerraSkin is mineral-based, with 80% of its calcium carbonate base being derived from post-industrial building material waste such as limestone scraps.
Meanwhile, UK-based Lush pushes the envelope by delivering more than half of its products (55%) without any packaging at all. Lush saves nearly 6 million plastic bottles globally from selling shampoo bars alone; 90% of all packaging material the company does use is recycled.
Compostable Make Up by Leoplast uses 100% plant-derived and biodegradable packaging, while Curtis provided cartons from FSC accredited material for Orla Kiely and used vegetable-based inks and a water-based coating
Although every little bit helps with smaller cosmetics companies moving towards sustainable packaging, it is nice to know that some of the biggest market players have jumped on the environmental bandwagon too. Estée Lauder’s Aveda has reduced its carbon footprint by recycling an estimated 37 million polypropylene caps to ensure that all its packaging is now made up of at least 80% recycled materials. According to Organic Monitor, Aveda is the largest user of PCR plastic in the industry, and its new environmental push is predicted to save an estimated 1 million tons in virgin plastic every year.
Meanwhile Procter & Gamble recently announced a major shift to plant-derived packaging for some of its leading global cosmetic brands, and is using sugarcane-derived plastic from Brazil’s Braskem.
L’Oréal also recently helped reduce the environmental impact of its packaging by introducing two new assessment tools to its package design process: its ‘sustainable packaging scorecard’ (SPS) and ‘packaging impact quick evaluation tool’ (PIQET).
PIQET is an online tool that identifies and reviews actions to reduce the environmental impact of packaging, particularly at the design development stage.
P&G has announced the first year results of its Environmental Sustainability Supplier Scorecard programme, designed to track and encourage improvement on key environmental sustainability measures in the company’s supply chain. The first year focused on assessing whether P&G would receive clear data to measure future improvements and jump-start innovation, and the company found that most suppliers could not only track the requested sustainability measures, but that the process of innovation sharing had begun.
Deployed last year to nearly 400 strategic suppliers, P&G’s scorecard is designed to measure performance in three areas: enhancing supply chain collaboration; improving key environmental indicators; and encouraging the sharing of ideas and capabilities to deliver more sustainable products and services to consumers.
“Working with our external partners is clearly critical to realising our long-term environmental vision as a company and this scorecard is a helpful tool to facilitate that collaboration,” commented Len Sauers, P&G’s vp for global sustainability.
Under the scheme, suppliers are evaluated and scored from 1-5. Those that show exceptional performance are rewarded, while for partners that score poorly, the scorecard forms the basis for joint sustainability improvement plans. The list of participating suppliers has been expanded to approximately 600 and an upgraded version of the scorecard has been introduced for 2011 (www.pgsupplier.com), with changes including a more transparent and consistent rating methodology.
Looking to the future, nanotechnology might bring significant advances, so long as concerns about the migration of nanoparticles can be dealt with. While the European Cosmetics Association Colipa lists nanomaterials as being present in much ‘intelligent’ food packaging, the technology has only really made its way thus far into the actual beauty products themselves and can be found in sunscreens, skin care and toothpaste.
This slow uptake in nanotech packaging might be due to the cost of developing the new technology, according to Viellard, who says that while companies are trying to invest in R&D, such research is “very expensive”.
Crawford says he is optimistic, however, that the technology will soon make its way into cosmetics packaging as further research into the arena is conducted.
“Nanotechnology is regarded as having the potential for enormous innovation across many industrial and scientific sectors,” says Crawford. “It should not automatically be regarded with suspicion or as not being green. New sustainable technologies depend on scientific innovation and nanotechnology may be able to play a role.”
Eco tube – a vision in green
A US-based biodegradable packaging specialist is currently seeking licensees across the globe for its eco friendly packaging solution for lip balms and other cosmetics formulated for packaging in a tube. Eco Vision’s Eco Tube is made from 100% certified post-consumer waste paper, biodegradable adhesives and coating, and may be printed with soy inks.
Eco Vision was recently issued a patent by the US Patent and Trademark Office for the Eco Tube – formally named ‘Paper Tube Packaging with Open End and Coated Cap’ – and received a Green Packy Award at 2010’s Natural Foods Expo for the product.