As underscored Emma Chiu, Innovation & Creation Director at The Innovation Group JWT Intelligence who moderated the conference on trends, “Sustainability is no longer an option, it’s an obligation”. A fact that exhibitors understood. All stands featured a green corner with packagings meeting the four R’s of sustainable development: Reduction, Reuse, Recycling and Recovery.
“Reduce”, like the thickness of the Slim Cap+Thin Wall tube proposed by Albéa. The weight of the material for the skirt made of PE mono-material, was reduced from 500 to 300 microns, i.e., a reduction of 30%. The tube and its capsule weighs 33% less than a standard tube, resulting in a reduction of its environmental impact of nearly 36% compared to a standard tube, boasted the manufacturer. “Reuse”, like the single-layer tube made of 50% PCR (Post Consumer Recycled) developed by CTL Packaging. The recycled material comes from milk bottles which were recycled in the UK. A PCR material supplied by the recycler Biffa, who guarantees its food grade, stipulated company officials. However, this is currently only valid in the UK, as Efsa  did not validate the process yet. As for “Recycling”, it is the Eastman Company, winner of the Luxury Pack in Green 2019 Award in the category “Sustainable Initiatives” who came up with the best example: the plastic specialty supplier presented Cristal Revēl, a new range of PCR copolyesters. In fact, the majority plastic packaging suppliers presented packaging solutions based on 30, 50 or even 100% PCR material, or made of recycled plastic from marine litter (Qualiform). Bio-sourced packagings also stole the show, whether based on ethylene derived from sugar cane, oyster shells, dried and ground algae, or wood chips (PRP).
As part exhibitors’ green offer, it is probably the fourth R that best illustrates the ecological shift taken by the event, with “Recovery” or Refill. This can be evidenced for example, with the lipsticks offering a refill solution, like those proposed by Texen, Toly or HCT Beauty. It is also true for airless systems, where the user keeps the outer bottle and only buys the airless inner part (proposes by Berry, formerly RPC Bramlage). We cannot speak of refill solutions without mentioning refillable perfume bottles, big names like Chanel, Vicktor & Rolf, Louis Vitton, amongt others having adopted the eco-responsible gesture initiated fifteen years ago by the forerunner, Parfums Mugler.
But plastic is not the only material to meet demand for more environmentally friendly solutions. Metal suppliers, dedicated to luxury packaging, are working on the issue, in particular the G. Pivaudran Company who uses aluminium for the decoration of premium perfume bottles. Committed to an environmental approach, the company is studying the possibility to use recycled aluminium.
Meanwhile the cardboard sector is not lagging behind: it has long been engaged in a process of continuous improvement to preserve natural resources. BillerudKorsnäs’ new CrownBoard combines strong resiliency and weight optimization. Thanks to a multi-layer structure, the carton board is thinner without compromising performance. Lighter, it reduces the number of pallets used for delivery. On the next stand, Favini was introducing his Refit paper, made up of 45% virgin fibre from FSC certified trees, 40% PCR fibres and 15% textile fibres from Italian wool and cotton by-products. Without forgetting of course, the new cardboard tubes of Albéa and L’Oréal or Stora Enso, which, if they don’t completely eliminate the use of plastic, significantly reduce its use.
Now remains to be checked the quality, the origin of all these materials and their food grade qualification when in direct contact with products. A requirement increasingly demanded by customers.
Brands that demonstrate their commitment to sustainable development and to circular economy are now able to rely on an offer that combines recyclability, eco-design, environmental impact reduction, re-use, compostability...