Tubex Aluminium Tubes is a subsidiary of Austrian-German industrial group CAG, which owns Stölzle Glass Group, among others. They have been specialized for 70 years in the development and manufacturing of aluminium tubes for the cosmetics, food, and pharmaceutical industries. “We adopted an ecoresponsible approach in 2018. The aluminium tube industry has not changed much over the past few years: we wanted to offer a breakthrough innovation,” says Thierry Bitout, CEO of Tubex.
After launching the Blue Tube in 2018, a tube fully made of recycled aluminium derived from industrial waste, the company developed Blue Tube Evo, which contains 95% of post-consumer waste (PCR for Post-Consumer Recycled) and 5% of PIR (Post-Industrial Recycled).
“We wanted to do even better by producing tubes based on tubes. Blue Tube Evo is 95% derived from used aluminium tubes, cans and aerosols thrown by consumers. The notion of circularity is essential. We have designed our alloy so that we could source very diverse types of waste and be supplied high quantities in unlimited access,” adds Thierry Bitout.
The 5% derived from industrial waste help adjust the chemical and mechanic composition of the whole product to obtain a unique alloy, while preserving both aesthetics and the properties of standard aluminium tubes, and ensuring endless recyclability.
L’Occitane speeds up transition
In order to keep improving the environmental profile of their products and strategy based on three key parameters – Reduce, Recycle, and React – the brand now aims to get rid of any unnecessary packaging and start using recyclable and/or recycled alternative materials. Although they are already based on a material that can be recycled over and over, all the brand’s iconic aluminium tubes will undergo a full transformation in 2021.
“We have already added recycled PET to our bottles, but we did not want to ignore aluminium. We found Tubex’s technology really attractive, because it is based on 95% of post-consumer recycled aluminium. To us, cleaning up what comes out of our bins also matters,” says Corinne Fugier-Garrel, Packaging Concept Development & Innovation Director of L’Occitane en Provence.
The Tubex technology reduces CO2 emissions and the carbon footprint by 70% and 60%, respectively, compared to a standard aluminium tube on the market.
“That’s exactly what our customers want: a product that is both circular and has a low environmental footprint. L’Occitane has always addressed these issues, so it was the ideal solution,” adds Thierry Bitout.
All 22 references concerned, in particular the 75-ml and 150-ml hand creams, will be made with the Blue Tube Evo solution by the end of 2021.
More and more refill stations in stores
As a result of the conclusive pilot study conducted in 2019 to test shower gel filling in stores, this year, L’Occitane aims to offer this service in about 60 points of sale across the world.
“Thanks to the pilot tests, we learnt a lot from our customers and beauty advisors. Consumers are favourable to this type of re-purchase, but they want a complete routine,” explains Corinne Fugier-Garrel. As a result, the fountains will offer a routine comprising hand liquid, shower gel, shower oil, shampoo, and conditioners. Two 250-ml and 500-ml bottles made of recycled aluminium will be available for sale, and then filled in and labelled by beauty advisors. Refills help save about 15%, and the aesthetic bottle goes with a leaflet with cleaning and maintenance instructions for successive refills.
Tubex launches first 100% aluminium-based tube
As for the manufacturer, this spring, they will launch a new innovation: the Monotube. Thanks to this unique, 100% aluminium-based version, they got rid of the tube’s plastic cap. It is actually fitted with a cannula which can be separated from the tube: the latter can then be closed by turning the cannula upside down. “Our Monotube is made of a single recycled material. It is compliant with today’s environmental requirements as regards packaging, because it reduces emissions and guarantees a high level of recyclability and circularity,” says Thierry Bitout.