Case Study: Eco-Friendly Luxury

Reishi mushroom is the signature ingredient in Dr. Andrew Weil for Origins Mega Mushroom Skin Relief Soothing Treatment Lotion.
Reishi mushroom is the signature ingredient in Dr. Andrew Weil for Origins Mega Mushroom Skin Relief Soothing Treatment Lotion.

When a brand commits to eco-friendly beauty from the inside out, it delivers not just a good product, but one that hearkens back to the earth’s natural remedies, not just natural ingredients, but those that were sourced ethically, and not just responsible packaging, but packaging developed by a supplier that incorporates green practices.

This can be a tall order for a brand, even The Estee Lauder Companies’ Origins line. Origins found a long-standing partner in secondary packaging company Curtis Packaging, which shares its mission of eco-friendly luxury. According to Don Droppe, Jr., president of Curtis, “We are an elite folding carton manufacturer of luxury goods and approach every new project under the green lens.”

Developing Sustainable Supplier Relationships

Founded in 1990 by Leonard Lauder, Origins has had a commitment to sustainability since day one.

“In the very competitive environment we’re in, we have a saying: We were doing ‘the nature thing’ before it was big,” says Beth Spruance, vice president of global marketing, Origins. “We ensure we’re doing our best for our customers and our environment. And, from that standpoint, it’s all about using renewable resources and utilizing earth-friendly practices in our factories and protocols, to make sure we have as limited a carbon footprint as possible.”

This mission extends to supplier relationships. Curtis Packaging was approached by Origins in 2003 to investigate a new paperboard initiative.

“The goal at the time was to locate a recycled paperboard with a percentage of post-consumer waste and that was Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certified,” explains Mike Simko, vice president of sales, Curtis Packaging. “Curtis worked very closely with a Northeast paper mill, where we created a paperboard comprising 50% post-consumer waste, FSC-certified and produced using 100% renewable energy.”

The company now gleans about 30% of its power needs from solar panels, according to Simko.

He adds, “In fact, we recently completed a $2.6 million energy efficiency project where we now run on natural gas, and installed a new HVAC compressor and LED lights throughout. Our goal in the next five years is to generate over 60% of our annual power needs onsite through solar.”

Curtis Packaging began running its plant on 100% renewable energy in 2005, according to the company, making Curtis an early adopter in North America. The company is also carbon neutral, FSC and Sustainable Forestry Initiative certified, and has achieved zero waste to landfill company-wide.

“We work with their Masters of Environmental Management students [from Yale’s School of Forestry] that come to Curtis each semester to work on various projects,” says Simko. “Some areas we’ve worked on together include: energy efficiency, zero waste to landfill, environmental risk assessments and implementing the ISO 14001 Standard, which led to the implementation of the ISO 50001 energy management standard, and many more.”

Continuous Sustainability Improvements

“We have pretty rigorous standards around our sustainability practices,” says Spruance. “Many of our products, like bath and body products or masks, even go without a carton. But, when we do use a carton, we don’t include inserts or extra paper.”

Simko notes, “Many of our innovations have transitioned products that would have ended up in landfill to be recyclable. Innovations like CurtChrome [a trademark of Curtis Packaging] have created superior metallic inks that are fully recyclable, eliminating metalized laminates.”

The inks offer an alternative to hot stamping and foil lamination, according to the company.

Sustainable Ingredients & Products

Origins’ latest sustainable offerings include a limited-edition-sized Dr. Andrew Weil for Origins Mega Mushroom Skin Relief Soothing Treatment Lotion.

“We use the reishi mushroom, which is very rare and seen not only as prestigious in Asia, but also key to traditional Chinese medicine,” explains Spruance. “We work with an organization in China that grows all of these in a very controlled environment, to make sure the temperature, airflow and sun are all controlled. It’s about meeting both needs—sustainability while ensuring purity and efficacy. We use science to optimize the power of nature.”

According to the brand, the lotion is appropriate for all skin types, including sensitive skin, and helps to slow visible aging by calming and soothing the skin while rendering it more resilient.


Lisa Doyle was formerly the associate editor of Global Cosmetic Industry and is a freelance writer in the Chicago area. Her work has also appeared in Skin Inc., Salon Today, Modern Salon, Master Barber and Writer’s Digest.

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