Paperboard ‘super exciting’ alternative in plastic-dominated cosmetic space: Developer

By Kacey Culliney contact

- Last updated on GMT

Stora Enso believes wood-based materials offer huge opportunities for the cosmetics industry, particularly in the primary packaging space (Getty Images)
Stora Enso believes wood-based materials offer huge opportunities for the cosmetics industry, particularly in the primary packaging space (Getty Images)

Related tags: Sustainable packaging, Paperboard, Environment, primary packaging, L'oréal

Finnish renewables major Stora Enso has developed a paperboard material to make cosmetic tubes, providing a sustainable alternative to plastic-packaged skin care products, its VP of innovations says.

Following more than a year in development, the paperboard material has been extensively tested for runnability with global tube manufacturer AISA. Current tests have been ran on diameter 35mm but the machinery is capable of running on various diameters, from 25mm to 63.5mm, which covers typical cosmetic tube sizes on the market. 

Launched last week, the barrier-coated, grease-resistant paperboard enabled a 70% overall plastic reduction in cosmetic tube bodies and Stora Enso was now trialling a bio-composite replacement for non-renewable plastic cap and tube shoulders.

Primary packaging ‘dominated’ by plastic

Speaking to CosmeticsDesign-Europe, Henna Paakkonen-Alvim, vice president of innovation for the Stora Enso Consumer Board division, said the move to develop an alternative primary packaging material had been on the company’s radar “for a while”. 

Henna Paakkonen-Alvim, vice president of innovation for the Stora Enso Consumer Board division
Henna Paakkonen-Alvim, vice president of innovation for the Stora Enso Consumer Board division

Our company is continuously developing these bio-based solutions to replace and reduce plastics in the packaging of our customers. As we’ve been in the cosmetics and luxury market for some time – mainly in secondary packaging – we thought it would now be time to enter this primary packaging area.…We believe this is a super, super exciting new alternative,”​ Paakkonen-Alvim said. 

She said opportunities to advance alternatives in primary cosmetic packaging were significant.

This area is very much dominated, especially in the primary packaging side, by plastics. …If you actually look around at the market, all the tubes are plastic in fact. We saw an opportunity there.”

Paakkonen-Alvim said the timing was also “perfect”​ amid rising consumer demands for plastic alternatives.

Overcoming challenges to ‘revolutionise industry’

The paperboard material currently enables a 70% reduction in total plastic
The paperboard material currently enables a 70% reduction in total plastic

While Stora Enso had conducted one year of runnability tests with AISA, she said cosmetic brands interested in using this paperboard material would need to conduct their own trials to determine aspects like shelf-life and manufacturing viability for specific formulations.

She said Stora Enso wanted to work with a broad range of brands in the cosmetics and personal care space, as well as the converters manufacturing tubes for these brands.

“We are targeting the whole industry. We are in discussions with companies and trials are already running and we are hoping, obviously, that this will revolutionise industry.”

L’Oréal paper-based tubes

Beauty major L’Oréal very recently announced its development of paper-based cosmetic tubes​, in partnership with packaging firm Albéa, that were set to launch next year. The co-developed tubes used bio-based and certified paper-like material to replace most of the plastic and L’Oréal planned to assess the product’s full environmental benefits through a multi-criteria Life Cycle Analysis once up-scaled.

Paakkonen-Alvim wouldn’t discuss whether L’Oréal had worked with Stora Enso on this project but said the company’s announcement demonstrated clear demand from cosmetic brands.

“We will be seeing major changes in this industry, I hope in the near future,”​ she said.

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