By 2050, the European Commission (EC) aimed to drive Europe into the first climate-neutral continent in the world, operating entirely on circular business models and clean technologies. Under a raft of new legislation and measures, including the European Green Deal with its Circular Economy Action Plan and Chemicals Strategy for Sustainability, the EC planned to inject close to €1 trillion in a ‘green investment wave’ to achieve this.
With such ambitious goals in place, the beauty industry, like many other sectors, had started to mobilise fast. From zero waste concepts, upcycling initiatives and solid formats to smart packaging alternatives, durable jars and refill stations, beauty and personal care businesses of all sizes were fast innovating in the circular space.
And one supplier focused on circularity was French packaging specialist the Albéa Group – well known for its work in sustainable tube innovation, developing paper-based beauty tubes in partnership with L’Oréal and fully recyclable tubes with Henkel and GlaxoSmithKline.
Circular beauty future? ‘Competition is behind us’
François Luscan, president and CEO of Albéa Group, said it was vital beauty packaging innovation was focused on circularity.
“We need to transfer from linear to circular to be forever,” Luscan told CosmeticsDesign-Europe.
“…This linear economy that needs to become a circular economy, for me, is an extremely exciting challenge (…) but this [challenge] is a structural one that will effect our industry and will open a lot of challenges for the future, not only for the future but immediately, and will transform our industry,” Luscan said.
Importantly, he said success required widespread collaboration and partnerships. “I am fully, fully – more than fully – convinced that competition is behind us and we have to cooperate.”
The importance of cooperation amongst suppliers, brands and consumers, Luscan said, had been his biggest learning curve as CEO at Albéa over the years. And creating these innovative and collaborative ecosystems had proven even more relevant during the COVID-19 crisis, he said.
“For me, this ecosystem between us, our customer and our suppliers, is extremely important (…) When we are all together, we are able to do things.”
Key priorities for 2022 – circularity, reactivity and technology
The Albéa Group’s priorities for this year, and the coming five, he said, started with investment in the circular economy but also involved being more flexible and reactive and using advanced tech to reduce costs and shorten supply chains.
Being able to be more reactive was especially important, he said, given the lightening speed digitalisation was taking over beauty worldwide, particularly in the wake of COVID-19. And investment in 4.0 tech would also help this too, he said.
“I believe the consolidation of the market is also important, because we have to invest in a lot – the circular economy, machines, people, invest in 4.0 – so, you need a critical size versus all the investment,” Luscan said.
The Albéa Group, therefore, remained open to acquisitions in the coming years to edge into new segments, regions and knowledge-areas. “As CEOs, we want to have a long-term sustainable company and a responsible company (…) and it’s why the circular economy is important, but it’s also about generating money, re-investing and investing between the parties,” he said.