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Optimizing Green Packaging
By: Sara Mason
Posted: June 24, 2014, from the July 2014 issue of GCI Magazine.
page 2 of 2The beauty market is one of the leading categories making green claims on products. Beauty products are intimate, causing consumers to have a heightened sensitivity and awareness of what is going to be safe for their use—but consumers also expect results. However, most claims are based on a single attribute, usually raw material sourcing or the lack of animal testing. Non-profit environmental standard development and certification organization Green Seal developed specific standards for the personal care industry with rigorous criteria that comprehensively address the lifecycle impact of a product—from manufacturing through packaging disposal. Called the GS-50 standard, it provides a tool for companies to improve the sustainability of their products and to earn certification—and a way for consumers to assess products’ safety profile, the environmental impact and the performance they can expect from the product.
Green Seal’s mission as a nonprofit is to increase sustainability in products and services. “We write the standards, but if the market doesn’t pick them up because it can’t make a decent product by following them, companies won’t get their products certified and we won’t have achieved our mission,” says Linda Chipperfield, Green Seal’s vice president of marketing and communications. Thus, Green Seal has spent a lot of time researching the impact of packaging and the ripple effect once it’s exposed in order to develop the GS-50 standard. It also conducts audits to provide independent confirmation that criteria are being met.
This is all for a very specific reason: consumer confidence. “If consumers do not have certainty that the product that they are buying is indeed going to enhance not only protection of the environment but the health and safety of themselves and their family, they are not going to buy it,” says Chipperfield.
Path to Success
Any brand that aspires to be a good steward to the earth should take improving the sustainability of their packaging seriously. “Having a beautiful package that not only drives a consumer’s purchase decision but supports better management of resources is a sexy proposition,” Diamond Wipes’ Okawa says. “Giving the consumer a sense of participation in a big picture cause is a good business.”
Incorporating comprehensive sustainability measures allows brands to tell more complete stories and be more transparent about their practices. “This way the brand can foster more loyal consumers who can see that the brand’s ethos align with their conscientious beliefs,” Okawa explains.
“Companies are striving to be environmentally responsible and making efforts to minimize pollutants as much as possible,” notes Dhillon. “The packaging area is somewhere that we can really put innovation to work to reduce the carbon footprint.”
With consumers increasingly concern for both their own and the Earth’s “wellness,” brands that can honestly make the claim that they care about people’s health and the environment can differentiate their product on the shelf. Bottle Coatings Inc., has a “clean, green” technique for glass bottles that contain UV sensitive contents. The patent-pending powder coating method is difficult to do on glass but is virtually pollution-free, with close to 100% efficiency of particle transfer. The processes also minimize waste, and allow for easy, safe disposal.
“While consumers can drive these trends, the brands are ultimately the ones who must embrace them and accommodate the demand for greener packages,” says Fusion’s Cahalen. “Brands have to make green part of their philosophy and value proposition.”
Arbonne has long had a brand story based on botanical ingredients, and Fusion recently worked with the brand to repackage its RE9 collection as the company made a big shift to producing more eco-friendly packages to align its brand story. “We were challenged with coming up with a package that fit that objective without compromising style,” explains Cahalen. In this case, Fusion used its airless Tru collection for a more sustainable solution that met the need. “Airless packaging is able to dispense almost all of the product in a package for a carbon-friendly option,” explains Fusion’s Dominski. “When you think about the energy that goes into the making of the formula, the amount of product that is lost in traditional packages or tubes has a great effect on the environment.”
From small to big changes, the beauty market has a chance to lead the way. For example, lip balm brand Eco Lips extended its line with a new packaging breakthrough for the lip balm category.
“We’ve spent the past 10 years perfecting our formulas and ingredients, so now it’s time to focus on the packaging,” says Steve Shriver, CEO of Eco Lips, who hopes the brand’s new Eco Tube will be the beginning of a shift into sustainable packaging for the entire lip balm category. The biodegradable, compostable paper tube is a proprietary push-up tube comprising non-coating paper and non-toxic food-grade glue, manufactured exclusively for Eco Lips—and now the new package should help make an emotional connection with the brand’s target market.
Because not only can brands lead the way for others in their category but outside the industry as well. “The beauty industry has long been innovators, charting new directions,” said AMERIPEN’s Chipperfield. “Continue to innovate—not only will it help your brand, but you will have the opportunity to enhance sustainability in packaging for other industries.
Sara Mason is a freelance writer based in the Chicagoland area. She was previously managing editor of GCI magazine.