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The End Justifies the Means

Sara Mason
Back to the February issue.

Consumers are more eco-conscious in every aspect of their lives, and the fragrance business has made note
of it. The fragrance industry traditionally has been very sophisticated in the materials and techniques it’s used to make its luxury packaging, but as the market shifts into more sustainable and environmentally friendly packaging alternatives, the challenge becomes marrying luxury with a message of corporate and social responsibility.

Secondary packaging is the first impression that consumers have of a product or brand. Its purpose is to attract attention. “Packaging is an opportunity to make an emotional connection with consumers and give them confidence in their purchase,” said Karen Koeningsberg, assistant manager, HLP Clear Packaging Products. In the fragrance market, this means the package has to look the part: bright whites, quality design and colors, and sturdy packaging that protects the bottle.

Yet, with consumer awareness continuing to rise, marketers must reinforce an eco-conscious philosophy through its package, no matter what’s inside the box. It’s not just in the colors and labels—it is also the materials used. With a diverse range of sustainable and biodegradable materials that has become available in recent years, the packaging of fragrance finally has a chance to both look the part and embody the green brand identity desired by today’s consumers, without sacrificing a luxury look.

Luxuriously Responsible Secondary Packaging
Curtis Packaging is among the leaders in the industry for its environmental practices, with the use of unique materials, green messaging and right-sizing. “Curtis is committed to developing sustainable printing and packaging processes that will deliver the luxurious look and feel that the fragrance industry demands,” said Rosanna D’Oleo, marketing associate, Curtis Packaging. Most recently, Curtis worked with Elizabeth Arden to manufacture the packaging of the new fragrance Britney Spears’ Believe. The unique fold-over clamshell design allows for more graphic display space without using excessive packaging. Also, the graphic details of the packaging were achieved ink-free, using instead six passes of hot stamping.

Envi by Monadnock addresses the need for an environmentally friendly alternative to 100% virgin fiber in the luxury packaging marketplace. The 18-pt premium uncoated paperboard is made with 80% post-consumer waste (PCW)—one of the highest recycled-content levels currently available. This was not possible three years ago.

“The eco-friendly alternative is achieved without sacrificing aesthetics, strength or durability,” said Dave Lunati, director of marketing, Monadnock Paper Mills. It is made in a bright white shade and features exceptional surface uniformity for high-quality printing. Envi also bears the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) chain of custody certification under the chip and fiber standard, guaranteeing the fiber is sourced responsibly throughout the supply chain.

Darrin Duber-Smith, president, Green Marketing Inc., believes the industry eventually will be able to develop a high-quality, 100% PCW package using a natural binder that allows virgin raw materials to be omitted. As the trend toward sustainable materials becomes a necessity, there will be further technological advancements for biodegradable packaging that will not sacrifice performance.

Corporate Commitment
Heightened environmental sensitivity has pushed sustainability into the mainstream of beauty, translating into a commitment to environmentally sound products and processes throughout the supply chain.

“Companies are slowly realizing that individually they cannot solve the entire problem,” said Curtis’ D’Oleo. Therefore, all members of the supply chain are moving backwards and challenging their suppliers to develop more sustainable products. Relationships are becoming stronger as companies work together, and they are developing synergies that result in more efficient and sustainable products.

Now companies must make themselves much more accountable for the environmental impact involved in the manufacturing process to avoid greenwashing backlash and give themselves a competitive advantage. “Be transparent,” said Duber-Smith. “Show consumers what you are doing and that you are aware of areas that need improvement.” They want to do business with companies that communicate honestly and with authenticity.

To comply, companies are making environmental claims on their Web sites, relating information about the company as a whole, rather than just referring to specific products.

In November 2007, Diamond Packaging launched the Diamond Greenbox initiative, the company’s commitment to research, design and implement sustainable packaging solutions. The initiative balances business with environmental considerations by promoting sustainability in all aspects of package production. The core of the commitment—designs, materials and methods—represents a comprehensive approach to packaging that minimizes impact across the supply chain.

“Sustainability optimizes the value of packaging through every phase of its life cycle,” said Dennis Bacchetta, director of marketing, Diamond Packaging. “Through creative design, careful material selection and best practices at the plant level, we are able to minimize waste, reduce shipping costs and increase efficiencies—all of which support a sustainable use of resources and cultivate a positive emotional connection to the brand.”

Diamond carefully evaluates all materials and suppliers in order to make the best recommendation to its customers. For example, its supplier Potlatch offers paperboard that has earned Forest Stewardship Council certification and is recognized by The Rainforest Alliance, a nonprofit international conservation organization, for integrating environmental and social sustainability into its work. Diamond also addresses sustainability throughout the manufacturing process, and this includes incorporating best practices at the plant level—such as recycling, process improvements, energy efficiency, resource recovery and waste management.

Curtis Packaging launched its complete corporate commitment to sustainability on its Web site. The company is among the first in the industry to be 100% carbon neutral, use 100% renewable energy and be Forestry Stewardship Council certified. In addition, Curtis invested in efficient lighting throughout its entire plant, and has been able to effectively reduce and recycle most of the waste it generates. And these commitments carry through to eco-friendly products and processes—such as a biodegradable and recyclable printing alternative to foil lamination and hot stamping and an ultra-gloss alternative to acetate film lamination—and bolster the message behind such offerings.

HLP Clear Packaging Products has responded to current trends by offering more recyclable PET and polypropylene packaging material and improving the printing and antiscratch and antistatic processes on these materials.

Suppliers are working to improve techniques such as this because they realize the importance of offering customers the same level of quality with greener raw material, and, therefore, suppliers are playing a bigger role in determining a package’s sustainability.
Being sustainable is also about efficiency, which saves money in the short and long run.

Up to 45% of the electricity used to manufacture Monadnock’s Envi is generated at its paper mill through company-owned, low-impact hydroelectric generators. “As sustainability continues to penetrate the industry, marketers will rely on suppliers to improve their eco-profiles,” said Lunati. “We have a responsibility to help them achieve their sustainability goals.”

The key to being successful and profitable in commitments such as these is to take notice of broader trends and determine the impact and implications of taking action. Change costs more when reactive instead of proactive, and it will no longer be optional, but vital, to take some actions when issues such as regulations for landfills and laws regarding packaging and recycling increase. And according to Duber-Smith, companies are held responsible for raw materials and suppliers in addition to their products.

For luxury fragrance brands, offering more eco-friendly packaging is a great way to reduce the company’s overall environmental impact and give themselves the opportunity to market an environmental message to a consumer base that is more eco-conscious than ever.

Back to the February issue.

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