“At Albéa, our position is clear. Packaging must be safe for those who make it and those who use it, for the product inside and for the planet. It must be circular; and it must have a minimal environmental impact,” says Gilles Swyngedauw, Albéa’s vice president of CSR, innovation, and marketing, in a foreword to the 2018 Sustainable Development Report (which is titled, Made with Albéa Made Responsibly).
The plan to achieve circular packaging
In a section of the Albéa report called Responsible Packaging, Aude Charbonneaux, CSR manager, sets out 5 “priorities to invent tomorrow’s circular cosmetic packaging”: reduce, reuse, recycle, PCR, and bio-based.
To reduce cosmetic and personal care packaging, Albéa will create packaging that weighs less, packaging with fewer different materials, and with no unnecessary components. This approach to more environmentally friendly beauty packing isn’t new for Albéa: “This is traditionally the purpose of eco-design and life-cycle assessments, and lots of progress have already been made,” writes Charbonneaux. “Yet,” she emphasizes, “we have to accelerate.”
To promote reuse, Albéa will encourage its luxury products customers to choose reusable packaging. Charbonneaux lists the company’s “spiral fragrance pump as well as refillable compacts and lipsticks,” as the sorts of reusable packaging options luxury customers can select from.
The success of recyclable beauty packaging very much depends on whether consumers can easily prepare it for recycling, whether the packaging components can readily be recycled, and whether the resulting material(s) can easily be used. Albéa has taken this into consideration and knows that it “must prioritize materials where a robust recycling infrastructure exists or will exist, banish some colors and decoration techniques, ensure that components can be disassembled or that a pack is made of a single material.”
Albéa’s PCR plastics priority is simply to use PCR (post-consumer recycled) plastics in the production of new packaging. Though, the company notes that “regulations, sourcing, and technical constraints” limit this strategy for the time being.
Albéa’s final priority on the path toward circular beauty packaging is to work with bio-based materials. The company is hopeful that increasing demand and advancing tech will make more bio-based packaging possible.
The new plastics economy
In a media release announcing the first Albéa sustainability report, the company states, “As the beauty industry rises up to the challenge of rethinking cosmetic packaging, to make it both desirable and sustainable, Albéa demonstrates its belief in responsibility as a core business driver..."
And while the company was compiling its report over the course of 2018 and early 2019, Albéa also took the opportunity to sign on to the Ellen MacArthur Foundation’s New Plastics Economy Global Commitment. In an effort to create a plastics economy suitable for the modern age, the Foundation is bringing leading companies together, setting common targets, encouraging innovation, gathering pertinent scientific evidence, and engaging stakeholders in and beyond the plastics industry (including NGOs, governments, academics, and others).
Deanna Utroske, CosmeticsDesign.com Editor, covers beauty business news in the Americas region and publishes the weekly Indie Beauty Profile column, showcasing the inspiring work of entrepreneurs and innovative brands.