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Chemistry, Materials & Packaging
Lush, M&S, Nestlé Accelerate Plastic-Free Strategies

The work to clean up our plastic mess continues with new initiatives from more major brands.

Lush’s first ‘Naked’ shop opens in the UK

Today, the Lush shop at 10 Market Street in Manchester opened its doors again after being renovated into the first plastic packaging-free cosmetics shop in the country.

Lush’s newest Naked shop — which follows the success of the company’s first Naked shops in Milan and Berlin — offers an abundance of plastic-free alternatives to your favorite cosmetics — from Lush classics such as solid shampoo bars and soaps, to new naked skincare innovations. Naked products make up almost 50 percent of Lush's core range.

Since Lush’s first naked shops opened in late 2018, solid shampoo bars have been their most popular products — with almost 8,000 sold. That’s up to 616,880 hair washes that haven’t come from plastic bottles!

“In Lush, we work in an industry where the packaging costs the customer more than the product,” said Lush co-founder and Managing Director Mark Constantine OBE. “Now, the customer needs to worry about how to recycle something they didn’t want to buy in the first place. This seems like a raw deal to us. If we can cut out all the plastic packaging, we can give our customers better value for money.”

Lush has been working on reducing packaging for years; the company says the new Naked shop is an exploration into pushing things further. And, rather than scanning labels for information, visitors to the shop will instead be able to scan products directly using the recently launched #LushLabs app, replacing packaging with a digital solution. **Lush Lens **is an in-development experiment feature that enables Lush to reduce their impact on the environment by using the phone's camera and Machine Learning to recognise products and give detailed ingredient information and ‘how to use’ demonstrations via the app.

Naked stats

In 2018, Lush customers in the UK …

  • saved 1.8 million* bottles of plastic bath products by choosing naked Bath Bombs, Bubble Bars or Bath Melts instead

  • had around 89.8 million** plastic-free hair washes using naked Shampoo Bars

*based on 7 baths from one 500ml bottle of bubble bath

**based on 60 washes from each shampoo bar

Marks & Spencer trials plastic-free produce

This week, Marks & Spencer put a dent in the amount of its own plastic by trialing over 90 lines of loose fruit and vegetables completely free of plastic packaging at its Tolworth store. 

To support the trial, M&S has introduced trained greengrocers, who will be on hand to offer customers advice as they select from two plastic-free aisles of fruit and vegetables. The range not only includes hard fruit and veg such as potatoes and bananas, but also more perishable/squishable items such as tomatoes and berries, which will be sold in compostable baskets.

In addition to helping customers pick and weigh their products, the greengrocers will provide tips on how best to preserve fresh produce and prevent food waste at home, as M&S has removed “best before” date labels from fresh produce as part of the trial.

Alongside the initiatives at Tolworth, M&S has committed to launching additional lines of loose produce and more sustainable alternatives to plastic in every UK store, which could save 580 tonnes of plastic waste over two years alone. The plan will involve replacing plastic produce bags with paper ones and phasing out plastic barcode stickers in favour of eco-friendly alternatives.

Louise Nicholls, Head of Food Sustainability, said: “We’re proud to launch a series of market-leading initiatives to help our customers take home less plastic. We know our customers want to play their part in cutting out plastic, while as a business our goal is to become zero-waste by 2025. That’s why we’re working hard to reduce the amount of plastic packaging we use without compromising on food quality and contributing to waste.

“Our trial at Tolworth is an important milestone in our plastic-reduction journey, and bringing back the traditional greengrocer will play a key part in educating our customers. Our plan is to create long-term impact in the future, using tangible insights from the Tolworth store trial.”

The three-month trial at Tolworth will be the springboard for M&S’s long-term plastic-reduction strategy, providing insights and customer feedback for an effective approach across all stores.

The initiative supports M&S’s target of becoming a zero-waste business by 2025. The retailer has already phased out 75 million pieces of plastic cutlery given out in its stores each year and replaced two million straws with paper alternatives as part of its plastics plan, which aims to remove 1,000 tonnes of plastic packaging by Spring 2019. All of M&S’s packaging will be ‘widely recycled’ by 2022 in a bid to help customers to recycle more.

Nestlé announces three-pronged approach to driving waste-free future

Meanwhile, Nestlé announced a series of specific actions towards meeting its April 2018 commitment to make 100 percent of its packaging recyclable or reusable by 2025, with a particular focus on avoiding plastic waste.

CEO Mark Schneider said: "Our broader vision and action plan outline our commitment and specific approach to addressing the plastics packaging waste issue. While we are committed to pursuing recycling options where feasible, we know that 100 percent recyclability is not enough to successfully tackle the plastics waste crisis. We need to push the boundaries and do more. We are determined to look at every option to solve this complex challenge and embrace multiple solutions that can have an impact now. We believe in the value of recyclable and compostable, paper-based materials and biodegradable polymers, in particular where recycling infrastructure does not exist.

“Collective action is vital, which is why we are also engaging consumers, business partners and all of our Nestlé colleagues to play their part. You can count on us to be a leader in this space!"

Addressing the multifaceted issue of plastic pollution requires a holistic view and a well-orchestrated effort. To this end, Nestlé announced tangible steps to pioneer alternative materials, shape a waste-free future and drive behavior change.

Pioneering alternative materials

In December 2018, Nestlé announced the creation of its Institute of Packaging Sciences (IPS) to evaluate and develop various sustainable packaging materials and to collaborate with industrial partners to develop new packaging materials and solutions.

Between 2020 and 2025, Nestlé will phase out all plastics that are not recyclable or are hard to recycle for all its products worldwide. In doing so, Nestlé is rolling out alternative packaging materials across its global product portfolio and establishing partnerships with cutting-edge packaging specialists:

  • Starting in February 2019, Nestlé will begin to eliminate all plastic straws from its products, using alternative materials such as paper, as well as innovative designs to reduce littering.

  • Nestlé will start rolling out paper packaging for Nesquik in the first quarter of 2019 and for the Yes! snack bar in the second half of 2019.  Smarties will start rolling out plastic-free packaging in 2019 and Milo will introduce paper-based pouches in 2020.

  • Nestlé Waters will increase the recycled PET content in its bottles to 35 percent by 2025 at the global level and will reach 50 percent in the United States, with a specific focus on its Poland Spring brand; and will increase recycled PET content for its European brands Acqua Panna*,* Buxton,* Henniez and Levissima to 50 percent by 2025.

  • Successful recycling requires adequate infrastructure, which is not always in place. The IPS is exploring new paper-based materials and biodegradable/compostable polymers that are also recyclable, among other alternatives. This could become a valuable option in places where recycling infrastructure does not yet exist and will not be available for some time.

  • Nestlé is also collaborating with external partners. The company has formed a global partnership with Danimer Scientific — a pioneer in creating more sustainable and more natural ways to make plastic products —to develop a marine biodegradable and recyclable water bottle. Nestlé also initiated a collaboration with PureCycle Technologies to produce food-grade recycled polypropylene — a polymer commonly used for packing food in trays, tubs, cups and bottles. PureCycle is commercializing groundbreaking recycling technologies that can remove color, odor and contaminants from plastic waste feedstock in order to transform it into virgin-like resin.

Shaping a waste-free future

Over and above delivering on its 2025 commitment, Nestlé has a longer-term ambition to stop plastic leakage into the environment across its global operations. This will help avoid further accumulation of plastics in nature and achieve plastic neutrality.

Plastic waste in the ocean poses a particular threat to Indonesia as well as other Southeast Asian countries. Nestlé has therefore become the first food company to partner with Project STOP — a leading initiative to prevent the leakage of plastic into the ocean by developing partnerships with cities and governments in Southeast Asia — which was launched in Indonesia in 2017. Project STOP is creating sustainable, circular and low-cost waste systems that capture as much value from waste as possible. It supports the many existing local initiatives and informal waste pickers in Indonesia’s coastal areas. Over the coming months, Nestlé will take the learnings from this project to other countries where we operate, in an effort to deliver ‘plastic neutrality’ in those markets.

Driving new behavior

Addressing the plastic waste challenge requires behavior change from all of us. To this end:

  • All 4,200 Nestlé facilities worldwide are committed to eliminating single-use plastic items that cannot be recycled. These items will be replaced by materials that can easily be recycled or reused.

  • Nestlé employees in all locations worldwide and at all levels will dedicate their volunteering days to the removal of litter and participate in clean-up activities on World Ocean Day on June 8, 2019. To lead the way, Nestlé’s Executive Board and employees at the company’s global headquarters in Switzerland will volunteer to clean the shores of Lake Geneva in May 2019.