Circular beauty? Consumer mindsets are shifting from ‘disposability to durability’, says TerraCycle

By Kacey Culliney

- Last updated on GMT

Unilever has already run a trial with TerraCycle's LOOP on durable packaging across its portfolio, including deodorants (Picture: Copyright Unilever)
Unilever has already run a trial with TerraCycle's LOOP on durable packaging across its portfolio, including deodorants (Picture: Copyright Unilever)

Related tags TerraCycle LOOP Recyclable packaging reusable packaging durable packaging Sustainability

Consumers are edging deeper into the idea of durable and reusable formats, presenting key opportunities for cosmetic and personal care innovation, says the business development manager at TerraCycle Europe.

TerraCycle – a private US recycling and waste management company – has partnered extensively with players in the cosmetics and personal care category over the years on collection and recycling initiatives, including The Body Shop​; L’Oreal​ and Proctor & Gamble​, among others. More recently, the recycling specialist launched LOOP – a dedicated company focused on the complete redesign of packaging, away from recycled and into durable, reusable formats.

“The idea is to work closely with brands and retailers to see how we can integrate the whole system,” ​Amanda Balada, business development manager at TerraCycle Europe, told attendees at SCS Formulate earlier this month.

LOOP, Balada said, followed the 1950s milkman concept but was “more 2.0; digitalised”.

“The idea is that consumers basically have a system where they can select, choose and sign up to a deposit system and we deliver to their door.”

On-demand, reusable cosmetic packaging – are consumers ready?

Speaking to CosmeticsDesign-Europe following her presentation, Balada said: “It’s true that consumers are more and more aware about sustainability, in general, and they are really purchasing products taking into consideration sustainable options.”

“…They understand that durable is better than recyclable or reduced packaging, even if it’s single-use. I would say there’s a trend starting from consumers to move from disposability to durability.”

TerraCycle had worked with Unilever on a LOOP trial earlier this year, she said, on durable, reusable and refillable deodorants and other brands. But, Balada said upscaling efforts to the mass market would be no easy task, because of the convenience attached to disposable formats. “There’s more effort here because we need to really interact with consumers in a different way.”

That was why industry had to work hard at the re-design stage, she said, to develop new functionalities in these durable alternatives. Inspiration, she said, could be taken from success in food: Häagen-Dazs, for example, had designed a durable, refillable ice-cream container that also kept the product cold for eight hours.

‘Definitely a big topic’ on the cosmetics agenda

Balada said there was already movement from the cosmetic and personal care category to improve the sustainability of packaging.

“The biggest players, the big conglomerates, have packaging commitments to have their packaging either recyclable, compostable or reusable by 2020 or 20205 – that’s a big commitment. I would say it’s a big topic on their agenda; they are looking into it.”

Currently, most companies were looking at how to move from non-recyclable to recyclable – already a big step, she said, and were now considering the next stage which was moving to durable, reusable formats.

As LOOP gained momentum, Balada said it was a good time for cosmetic and personal care companies to consider partnerships and a wider rethink of how packaging was developed.

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