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Chemistry, Materials & Packaging
Fashion, Beauty Brands Pushing the Envelope with Sustainable Packaging Stories

Sustainable packaging is on track to becoming the norm in both industries, leaving the thing that sets brands apart as the way they communicate the message.

There were some positive signs of progress on climate change amid the early COVID chaos, with fashion and beauty industry leaders pledging to cut down on collections and develop a more streamlined process from production to store delivery in order to meet current demands.

Brands are clearly conscious of the impact of their products and supply chains; but what they often forget is their packaging, usually one of the most important things to get right when it comes to sustainability. Ultimately, your products are only as sustainable as your packaging.

By now, of course, brands are fully aware of the pitfalls of plastic, with those still using the material in their packaging and products often condemned in the court of public opinion. There have also been some serious success stories, for instance, with Germany recently announcing that it will ban all single-use plastics by 2021.

Non-plastic packaging solutions have, therefore, become something of a trend in their own right. But, as we increasingly see brands opt for an eco-friendly alternative to plastic, it’s communicating those sustainable credentials that really sets them apart in consumers’ minds. But, unfortunately, brands largely tend to hide their light under a bushel.

So, there is a need for more effective communication from brands and packaging providers to rectify this issue, particularly as customers’ eyes open wider to it — which recent events have indicated is happening as greater attention is paid to brands’ initiatives for social good. 

Attaining credentials, accreditations and stamps of approval such as FSC and the Positive Luxury butterfly are essential in communicating to customers that your packaging is in fact, environmentally friendly. This should be the first step in any brand’s strategy to reducing the carbon footprint of their packaging; and it also instills trust and confidence in consumers, which reflects positively on the business and its revenue.

Of course, earning such badges requires innovation, investment and a commitment to ongoing effort. And focus should not only be given to exterior shells; but inserts, labels and order information notes and documents, as well, particularly as the shift towards online shopping becomes more prominent.

Alongside this, cutting down on the amount of packaging used is another simple step a brand can take. Along with reducing costs, waste and ultimately the business’ and industry’s carbon footprints; if communicated correctly, it can be used to target consumers who have become accustomed to their new, minimalist lifestyle under lockdown restrictions.

But with necessary packaging, it’s all about maximising its use and encouraging a second life. Again, this comes from effective communication of how packaging can be reused or recycled. For example, we worked with MATCHESFASHION to develop their iconic marble effect boxes, which are some of the most eco-friendly in the luxury fashion industry, communicated simply by their design and quality.

Made from high-quality materials, the boxes are designed to be durable and sturdy so that they can be used over and over again in multiple ways. Ultimately, their boxes aren’t just holding baskets for their pieces but have become part of the product and service customers pay for.

Beauty brands such as MAC Cosmetics and LUSH (which has also pioneered the idea of selling “naked” products, free from packaging altogether) have found success in incentivising recycling with “bring back” schemes, whereby customers are encouraged to take empty containers back to the store in return for free products, refills or monetary discounts. As well as reducing their environmental impact, they are encouraging repeat purchases and brand loyalty, which is a great example of how commercially valuable sustainability initiatives can be.

And, moving away from fashion and beauty, Coca-Cola has this year become the first major brand in their sector to make bottles from 100 percent recycled plastic in the Swedish market. Swapping their iconic label for one that spreads the important message of recycling, the campaign aims to encourage and educate customers on a circular economy.   

As an increasing number of brands up their efforts in communicating their eco-credentials, it will no doubt call for greater creativity and innovation. Ultimately, sustainable packaging is on track to becoming the norm, leaving the thing that sets brands apart as the way they communicate the message.