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Putting on a New Face—Environmentalism’s Impact on Ingredients and Packaging
By: Liz Grubow
Posted: July 6, 2009, from the July 2009 issue of GCI Magazine.
With an ever-increasing focus on environmental consciousness and sustainability, more and more beauty companies are developing green strategies in branding, design, packaging and in the use of product ingredients to demonstrate their commitment to change.
Immersion in cradle-to-cradle (C2C) certification and best practices is one avenue companies are pursuing in order to buck the trend of traditional cradle-to-grave design and manufacturing. The hope is that this method can provide opportunities to educate retailers and consumers on how changes or reductions in material/ingredients, innovative printing technologies using plant-based or recyclable inks, and alternate production processes, among other strategies, can positively impact the environment by reducing waste and saving energy.Time magazine calls C2C “a unified philosophy that—in demonstrable and practical ways—is changing the design of the world.” C2C is a design protocol that supports the elimination of waste by recycling materials or products into new or similar products at the end of its intended life, instead of disposing of it in landfills. C2C certification provides a company with a means to tangibly, credibly assess achievement in environmentally intelligent design and help customers purchase and demand products that pursue a broader meaning of value. This means using environmentally safe and healthy materials; designing for material reutilization, such as recycling or composting; the use of renewable energy and energy efficiency; careful use of water, and purest water quality linked with production; and instituting strategies for social responsibility. Aveda is the first beauty company to receive C2C certification for four botanical ingredients: sandalwood oil from Australia, rose oil and lavender oil from Bulgaria, and uruku from Brazil.
Within the Framework
Mastering the craft of C2C within the framework of a company’s strategy can be a daunting challenge. There are many stumbling blocks and cost implications that a company may encounter on its way to becoming green: capital investment, the right balance of size/weight so the SKU can be easily conveyable through a shipping lane but big enough to discourage rising in-store theft, and the appropriate material choices to use in promotional vehicles such as in-store displays so that they are sturdy but eco-friendly.
Based on LPK Beauty Group’s research with retailers and consumers, C2C products and packaging do indeed gain the attention of both groups. Retailers have endorsed brands that have made these cutting-edge changes. Consumers have expressed an interest and consideration in purchasing these brands, but it is suspect that they will automatically purchase these products simply due to this factor. Price/value will continue to play a key role in addition to the shift in consumer attitudes and values in the trend LPK refers to as “Simplistic Slowdown.”
The dramatic downturn of the global economy has resulted in consumers slowing their consumption habits, savoring time as the new luxury and seeking out more simplicity in their lives. Beauty marketers, fueled by this trend, are divesting certain details such as busy aesthetics, excess packaging and multiple vessel shapes/sizes and concentrating more on brand storytelling, introducing refillables and using materials that harken back to the past— i.e., glass bottles or natural ingredients. The Olay Definity brand, for example, decreased its use of plastic by extensive retooling of packaging components.