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How Global Beauty Brands Are Moving Toward Sustainable Packaging

By Jamie Matusow, Editor-in-Chief | July 19, 2016

Leading industry players discuss recent changes and the challenges ahead.

At MakeUp in Paris, on June 10, at a roundtable moderated by Thomas Busuttil, co-manager of the consulting firm UTOPIES, leaders at key global brands as well as a supplier, took part in a panel discussion that centered on sustainable packaging and development within the beauty industry.

Participants included Philippe Bonningue, Packaging and Environnent Director, L'Oréal—and a member of Beauty Packaging’s Board of Advisors; Isabelle Roatta, Director Shopping Projects, Chanel; Sandrine Sommer, Sustainable Development Director, Guerlain; Fanny Frémont, Purchasing CSR Manager, Yves Rocher; and Cécile Tuil, VP Communications, Albéa.

Shown above: (L-R): Busuttil, Roatta, Tuil, Frémont, Sommer, Bonningue

What steps are these global brands taking toward sustainable packaging? What are some of the solutions that may lie ahead? Following are some of the thoughts expressed during the session.

Philippe Bonningue, Packaging and Environnent Director, L’Oréal, said L’Oréal launches 5,000 to 8,000 new products a year, so the company takes the impact on the environment very seriously. He defined packaging as anything that’s not a formula—and needs to be improved. L’Oréal’s Sharing Beauty with All plan has the goal by 2020 to have more sustainable business practices embedded into every aspect of their value chain. As part of this commitment, by 2020, L’Oréal will ensure that 100% of their products show environmental or social improvement.

Thus, L’Oréal is investigating every opportunity for sustainable packaging, from lighter weights to new materials. One suggestion: reactivating fragrance fountains at counter. Bonningue also pointed out the major problem facing brands that want to follow this course of action: “Customers favor sustainability, but don’t take action as far as willingness to spend more.”

Much of the innovation necessary to reduce packaging’s impact falls on the supplier.
falls on supplier Bonningue commented: “Without suppliers, we are nothing. We need to change [our relationships]—co-innovation is important. For instance, L’Oréal has replaced aluminum tubes with laminates. It took three years of study, said Bonningue and lots of tests and investments.

Cécile Tuil, VP Communications, Albéa, said packaging for Beauty drives the brand equity. She spoke about tubes that are thinner but perform better technically—and called this a frugal approach—eco=design, lighter weight, less materials, safer processes—and refillable. She said, “Sometimes sustainable packaging is more expensive to develop, but you have to look at it long-term. We must think together; it’s a new challenge.”

Sandrine Sommer, Sustainable Development Director, Guerlain, said the prestige brand is studying how to reduce their environmental footprint, improve factories, and improve end of life. She said marketing departments are realizing that consumers are changing and becoming more aware of the packaging. In one effort, Guerlain has changed their shopping bags. There are no pellicules and they sport cotton handles. The bags are now 100% recyclable, and Sommer said, “Consumers had a favorable reaction.”

Fanny Frémont, Purchasing CSR Manager, Yves Rocher said that Reduce and Recycle are important. She said that the company avoids certain materials, deco techniques and types of paper. As part of their eco-design guidelines, they no longer wrap any packages with cellophane, except for fragrances that are more luxurious. In the future, they may consider printing all instructions on the package and eliminate brochures. They have removed silver pellicules because they hinder recycling of the package. Sometimes, said Frémont, Rocher doesn’t develop a product because the cost may be too high—such as the case with vegetal plastics. She emphasized that Rocher does a lot of co-innovation. The brand launched a “brainstorming basket” on its website to encourage innovative ideas throughout the year.

Isabelle Roatta, Director Shopping Projects, Chanel told the crowd that Chanel has tripled in size over the last 10 years. In their efforts toward sustainable packaging, she said they have replaced all risky, hazardous materials: “no PVC, opal glass with fluorine, and we use post consumer materials whenever possible, as well as more abundant raw materials.” She suggested: “We [global brands] need to pool our needs—we need to go to a supplier [and ask} for a specific material to be developed.”

Innovation in this area is increasingly becoming an open forum. Chanel uses a risk assignment management too that was presented at the shol. It will be offered open source, free of charge, and will enable suppliers to look at Chanel’s guidelines.

How do you educate, raise awareness?

Bonningue said: “You have to start with a clear vision; our sponsor is our chairman/CEO. We’re creating a footprint for environmental/societal benefits.”

Roatta commented: “CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility) is an attitude, a state of mind.”