Recycling and all things green define packaging in 2009

By Simon Pitman

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Recycling Diamond packaging

Eco-friendly packaging has been one of the buzz words in the cosmetics and personal care world this year, illustrated by a seemingly never-ending list of developments.

Bioplastics, recycling, biodegradeable, compostable, refillable, sustainability, green washing… these are just some of the phrases that have come to define what is now the fastest growing area in beauty packaging.

Falling in line with demands for more natural products that contribute positively to a sense of well-being, consumers are now demanding products that are both ecologically and ethically sound.

One of the most obvious ways of achieving this goal is to provide packaging that is made from sustainable resources, as well as being easy to recycle or compost.

Suppliers address consumer demands

During the course of this year, all the big names in packaging have made inroads into this fast evolving and growing area, as a means of tapping into both the growth opportunities as well as tuning into consumer desires to be more environmentally friendly in their purchasing patterns.

Advances on the supplier side have included Alcan Beauty Packaging launching a new tube made from 60 percent recycled materials derived from consumer regrind, a move that was claimed to be an industry first.

Likewise smaller packaging supplier Diamond Packaging launched an initiative back in May to supply Highland Lilac Perfume with secondary packaging that combined both eco-friendly materials and production techniques.

Manufacturing and materials all part of the mix

In an industry-leading move, Diamond used recyclable paperboard made from a renewable source and then used wind energy to manufacture the carton.

Origins, Estee Lauder’s natural and organic brand, also made further inroads to appeal to its target consumer by launching a recycling program that invited consumers to return to the store any of its packaging, alongside the cosmetics packaging for any of its competitors.

This is said to have created a significant impact and the company says that an increasingly environmentally conscious public has responded well to its recycling program.

However, in the thick of the numerous green packaging initiatives that have been launched in the course of this year, many experts have warned that companies should be careful not to over stress the point, as consumers are weary of ‘greenwashing’ and will not have the ‘wool pulled over their eyes’.

But watch out for greenwashing!

Speaking at a conference in Paris back in May, Professor of Bio-polymer Science and Engineering Stéphane Guilbert said use of certain materials can be accompanied by unwelcome ethical consequences.

One example of this is polylactic acid (PLA), which is often derived from genetically modified (GM) corn starch and, as a general rule, green consumers tend not to be fans of GM.

This is just one example of a long list of potential pitfalls, suggesting that, although consumers are keen to adopt greener packaging, a myriad of information sources will help keep them informed about what really constitutes a green product.

Related topics Packaging & Design

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