Sustainable, functional, beautiful: Chanel unveils biobased perfume cap

By Kacey Culliney contact

- Last updated on GMT

The lid is made of a blend of plant-based materials, including byproduct wood chippings, and maintains a luxury edge thanks to a ceramic feel [Image: Chanel/Sulapac]
The lid is made of a blend of plant-based materials, including byproduct wood chippings, and maintains a luxury edge thanks to a ceramic feel [Image: Chanel/Sulapac]

Related tags: Chanel, Sulapac, Sustainable packaging, biobased, Perfume, Fragrance, renewables, sustainable beauty

French luxury fashion house Chanel has co-developed a biobased bottle cap for one of its perfume collections with Finnish startup Sulapac, made from a blend of renewable materials including wood chips.

Following two years of collaboration, the biobased lid now featured across all 125ml bottles of Chanel’s Les Eaux de Chanel perfume collection. The black lid was composed of three layers, made from 91% plant-based materials obtained from renewable resources and FSC-certified wood chips that were the byproduct of industrial side-streams. Whilst not fully recyclable at this stage, Chanel and Sulapac were actively participating in the development of innovative recycling facilities to treat this type of material and packaging component.

“In keeping with the rigorous standards of the House of Chanel, every detail was carefully thought out, including the sensory nature of the material, its resistance to fluctuations in temperature, the unique sound the bottle makes when the cap is put on, the grip, and the depth of the satiny matte finish on the iconic double C graving. It took no fewer than 48 tries to reach the final product,”​ the companies said.

Sustainability ‘isn’t enough’ – it must also be functional and beautiful

Dr Suvi Haimi, CEO and co-founder of Sulapac, said the final aesthetics of the lid had been especially important for this project with Chanel.

“The challenge for most sustainable packaging solutions comes from functionality and aesthetics. Often, sustainable packaging makes compromises on functionality and aesthetics to achieve recyclability. But sustainability isn’t enough. To turn brands and consumers into sustainable packaging, [away] from conventional plastics, the alternatives must provide an equally high-quality user experience,”​ Haimi told CosmeticsDesign-Europe.

“We are delighted to have been able to prove that it is indeed possible to create packaging that is sustainable, functional and beautiful. Aesthetics and luxurious feel are something that we’ve paid very close attention to,”​ she said.

Sulapac’s packaging felt and sounded like ceramic, she said, achieving that luxury feel whilst protecting the formulation just as well as conventional plastic packaging.

Speaking last year at ADF&PCD 2020 in Paris, Pascale Marciniak, packaging innovation director at Chanel, said achieving a luxury feel was certainly one of the biggest sustainability challenges for prestige beauty brands, but one that could certainly be overcome​.

“I believe there is a community of value between luxury and sustainable development, but also for excellency,”​ Marciniak said. For luxury brands, she said it was about “doing less” ​and making good choices with materials, recycling them, working with new bio-sourced materials and being disruptive with concepts like refills and reusable packaging.

Chanel and Sulapac ‘long-term’ collaboration on sustainable packaging

Whilst Chanel marked the first “highly famous global luxury brand”​ collaboration for Sulapac, the supplier had also worked with other companies, including Spanish clean beauty startup Innerbark. Sulapac was also working alongside international packaging firm Quadpack as a preferred global cosmetics supplier and last year launched its Nordic Collection of cosmetic jars globally​ via this partnership.

Haimi said Sulapac would continue its collaboration with Chanel on sustainable packaging innovations moving forward, with the possibility of rolling out the biobased lid across other fragrance lines within the fashion major’s portfolio.

“This project is part of a long-term, collaborative approach that puts sustainability at the centre of Chanel research and development,”​ she said.

Chanel had been an investor in Sulapac since 2018 alongside Sky Ocean Ventures.

Sustainable packaging brings ‘competitive edge’ for beauty brands

Looking ahead, Haimi said sustainability, and sustainable packaging especially, would continue to rise in importance for beauty, including the luxury and prestige category.

“Overconsumption and concerns about wasteful packaging are already a big part of the conversation surrounding beauty. These discussions are driven by environmentally conscious consumers, especially millennials and Gen Z, as well as beauty influencers on social media,”​ she said.

“…Sustainability has quickly become a competitive edge for beauty brands,”​ she said.

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