Sticking a plastic straw in a mojito these days is about as PC as ivory cufflinks. Single-use plastic is the new moral outrage. It has been banned at Wetherspoons and Pret a Manger, and now McDonald’s is testing paper alternatives.
In the beauty packaging industry, however, single-use plastic remains the norm. Clearly, there are competitive advantages for brands that react to consumer demand – so why is it so hard to take positive action?
As Director of Design & Advanced Technologies at Quadpack Industries, I am immersed in debate and one thing has become abundantly clear. Going green in our sector is not quite as easy as might be thought, for a number of reasons.
First of all, the obvious replacements for plastic are flawed. There are alternatives sourced from organic material, such as sugar cane. While sourced from a sustainable material, this biopolymer is not biodegradable and leaves micro-plastics. Even using wood is not a guarantee of sustainability if it is not sourced from certified forests.
The second problem is price. Brands may want to embrace more environmentally-friendly techniques across their supply chain, but are faced with cost implications. A switch to sustainable materials can often double the cost of the packaging. For products in a competitive marketplace, it may not be viable to pass these extra costs on to consumers.
The third challenge is the level of understanding of the options. Some of the larger organisations have specialists devoted to exploring sustainable solutions, but many do not. This lack of knowledge is making the transition to sustainable materials so much harder.
If all that sounds gloomy, now it is time for the good news. There are solutions. In terms of materials, new technology is providing the breakthroughs we have been waiting for. For example, Sulapac, with whom we partner, produces a material made from wood chip and natural binders. It is water and oil resistant and is also truly biodegradable. It is potentially a game changer, offering all of the benefits of plastic without the plastic waste problem.
As scale kicks in, the cost of materials will fall, helping to break down the cost barriers. Also, our creative team routinely designs with sustainability in mind, for example, light-weighting where possible, which reduces cost impact. In any case, new products often bear a higher price, as consumers make up their minds about an acceptable price tag.
A massive plus is the attitude of the industry. Brands want to improve – this can be seen in the rise of life-cycle assessments – and consumer habits are also changing. Millennials care deeply about the environment. Brands that take the lead on sustainability can leap-frog cautious rivals.
Importantly, the investment climate is backing sustainable practices. Banks are embracing ESG (environment, social and governance) investment principles. The Norwegian sovereign fund, worth a trillion dollars, and French investment bank Société Generale, are prioritising ESG-compliant funds. They regard the risk-return matrix as superior, as responsible brands are less vulnerable to scandals and consumer desertion. The performance of ESG indexes support this, outperforming rival benchmarks, such as emerging markets, since 2012.
A positive outlook
What this adds up to is an industry with serious challenges, but a growing arsenal of solutions. Progress is slow but, at Quadpack, our plan is to guide the industry in the right direction. This year, we implemented a comprehensive CSR strategy. We have a sustainable packaging team dedicated to increasing our range of environmentally-friendly materials. Our wood factory is certified by the FSC and PEFC. We work with genuinely sustainable materials like Sulapac and team up with researchers across the globe to find new alternatives. We take the initiative on design. Even if you don't ask, we will usually come up with design changes which can save weight and improve the footprint of your product. As a global company – with offices in Europe, the US and Asia – we have the ability to harness innovation no matter where it happens. Together with our industry colleagues, we can make a huge impact in this complex but critical mission.
– Jeremy Garrard, Director of Design & Advanced Technologies
This article appeared in the Raconteur supplement ‘The Future of Packaging’ in The Times on 18 July 2018. Read the full publication here.
'Skintellectuals': the new generation of savvy beauty consumers
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‘Wood and beauty packaging’, an exclusive white paper
A versatile and sustainable material, wood has been used for creating aesthetic impact since times immemorial. More recently, wood attracted attention for its endless qualities: functionality, strength and beauty, breaking ground as an optimal solution for environmentally-conscious industries. There are, however, some myths surrounding wood harvesting, manufacturing and performance.
Sustainable luxury: the latest trends from Luxepack Monaco 2021
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There is something promising in the kingdom of beauty. The end of 2020 and the start of 2021 have shown some mergers and acquisitions activity that gives a hint of how the cosmetics market will look in the next few years. Although cautious, investors are looking to position themselves for a post-COVID future, focusing on mid-tier brands with a strong sustainable approach.
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2020 has been a challenging year, where businesses have had to test their resilience, innovation and agility. A forced change in routine due to COVID-19 has left its mark on behaviours and expectations, and 2021 starts on an uncertain note for many cosmetics businesses, although some trends can already be seen out there.
Smart manufacturing, in the region, for the region
The fourth article of Quadpack’s packaging development series dives into our manufacturing processes and capabilities – and how they help beauty brands perform. We invite you to discover how our manufacturing teams work to deliver the perfect packaging for each client.
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Less is more: when buying has meaning
Conscious consumerism is rising. While people all around the world have been increasingly aware of what’s behind the advertising, paying attention to products’ ingredients and sourcing, in recent times the environmental and social impact of every purchase has also become a general concern.
Beauty e-commerce enters a new era
At some point so far this year, half of the world’s population has been asked or ordered to stay home. The COVID-19 pandemic has changed most of our habits and the purchasing experience is one of the most affected. Quadpack interviewed some of its global clients to better understand what’s behind the e-commerce ‘new normal’.
The world is our lab
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Waterless beauty: a sustainable innovation
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CBD, the trend you won’t want to miss
Forget the taboo. Cannabis sativa is not a synonym of narcotics – this resourceful plant has much more to offer than meets the eye. From textiles to medicine that helps many conditions like Parkinson’s and epilepsy, the famous hemp is multi-purpose and may have amazing effects if added into your skincare routine.
The fantastic factory of ideas – transforming trends into products
In this first article of our series about product development, we take a glimpse into the early stages of design through the work of Quadpack’s department of Design and Advanced Technology, which tracks trends and behaviours, and distils them into tomorrow’s packaging innovations.
Modern but Mature, Lavinia Is Curious about What's to Come
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Crafting the future: How luxury packaging is changing for the better
Business transformation for a more sustainable world was a key topic of Luxepack Monaco, one of the most important luxury packaging exhibitions in Europe that was held from September 30 to October 2, 2019. By rethinking packaging, the industry is investing in reusable, renewable, recyclable and reduced solutions, even for the most sophisticated products.
Rosa likes her skincare and make-up rituals to have a spiritual side
Over the past few months, as part of the new Trend Roadmap, we have introduced you to Quadpack’s new tribe of virtual personalities. Each one of them expresses a driving tendency in the here, now and future of the beauty and fragrance sector. They are there to help you keep you ahead of the curve in a consumer landscape that is increasingly nuanced. This month, representing the Oracle trend, we are introducing Rosa.
Let's connect with Charlotte
Over the past few months, as part of our Trend Roadmap, we have introduced you to Quadpack’s family of virtual personalities. Together, these people paint a picture of modern life and are there to guide you through an increasingly complex consumer landscape. Now it’s time to meet Charlotte, the Gen Z embodiment of the Phygital trend.
How to choose packaging for my product?
The success of any product depends heavily on the message it carries. Luxury, youth, sustainability, minimalism are more than mere categories: they communicate with consumers’ feelings and expectations. And how better to convey your message than with the perfect packaging? Some of Quadpack’s best specialists will guide you through the enchanted world of jars, tubes and packs.
- Jo Webb
- Company News -> QP Corporate News
- Created 24 Oct 2018
- Modified 25 Oct 2018
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