Neil says..

Neil says..

Neil Farmer discusses the beauty and personal care market packaging innovations now being driven by sustainability

EDIT Neilsays bubblesThe beauty and personal care market, worth more than $23 billion, is exhibiting important developments in sustainable packaging and eco-friendly solutions. It is forecast that the global market will be worth $28 billion by 2018/19, driven by growth in emerging markets where, despite questions about economic performance and GDP figures, China will become the world’s largest personal care packaging market by the end of the decade. Growth in middle classes, where 45% of China’s population is now classified as middle class, a rise in demand for branded goods and improving retail infrastructure are all fuelling growth.

However it’s not all about China. In Western countries greater consumer interest in beauty products and personal care, greater disposable income and an ageing population seeking to stay youthful, are leading to market growth of more than 3% per annum in the USA and EEC. So are these trends manifesting themselves in improved eco-friendly and environmental products and packaging? I believe the answer is yes, but there is still much to be done by all stakeholders in the supply chain. Take examples from some leading industry groups. L’Oreal just reported that 74% of its products launched in 2015 had an improved environmental or social profile. Its sustainability programme set ambitious targets for 2020.

There are challenges ahead but progress is being made. Procter and Gamble aims to create technologies that give the capability to “substitute our top petroleum-based raw materials with renewable materials, integrating these technologies into our supply chain as cost and scale permit”. Cost is always going to be the issue and start-up biotech operations will need volume throughput and economies of scale before they become profitable, but the direction of travel is right. Unilever in America, with the slogan Rinse-Recycle-Reimagine, has recently relaunched its campaign to encourage consumers to treat all plastic bottles the same and reconsider their recycling habits. Unilever said only 14% of bathroom bottles are recycled, leaving 29 million tonnes of plastic in landfilll each year. Recycling of kitchen items is almost four times higher. The challenge is to get consumers to think about how they dispose of plastic bathroom bottles and to discover which are actually recyclable. I also read with interest that Aethic, a London-based skin care company, had become the first to use a clear filmic packaging material developed by Novamont of Italy.

The material is called MATER-BI. It is obtained by proprietary technologies using starches, cellulose, vegetable oils and combinations. The production process provides low carbon emissions and the material is biodegradable and compostable to European standard UNI EN 13432. This is a material to watch for the future. Global Closure Systems (GCS) recently produced a new bi-injected, shatter-proof plastic jar designed to replace glass which aims to improve consumer safety whilst maintaining aesthetic appeal . The debate will continue to rage as to the environmental virtues of choosing plastic over glass but GCS claims plastic has practical advantages for the end-user and the supply chain and the new design is more efficient to produce whilst helping reduce carbon footprint. The company may has a point, because rigid plastic is the most used material for personal care products and is forecast to have above average growth to the end of the decade.

Stephanie Cornwall
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