Element Packaging provides long-term sustainability directives combined with innovative turnkey, custom, and stock solutions for everyone- from promising indie startups to major global brands.
From the beginning, Element has made huge strides in material science advancements. From a new way to sort black plastic during recycling, flexible refillable packaging, mono-material solutions, and an accessible recycling initiative- Element has been busy making the beauty industry greener. We speak with Ulrich Lerissel, co-founder of Element, to learn more about their achievements in the industry.
What are some of the most important advancements in material science Element has made in relation to consumer health and sustainability?
We’ve taken innovation to the next level in adaptive applications in the use of material additives that help in the sorting and reclamation of materials used in our manufacturing process.
Changing the makeup of the materials that products are packaged in makes them easier to recycle- on both the consumer side and at the recycling plant. This takes a lot of research and development but it is worth it to be on the forefront of material science and sustainability.
Another innovation in material science that we are really excited about is a plastic additive that causes the package to become actively antibacterial. Once Element “MicroClean” is added to the plastic, the material has an intrinsic immune system.
This has obvious medical benefits, it has been proven to be 99% effective against flu viruses and the common cold. It's also a win for our main customers, brands working in the personal care and beauty industry. There is a huge consumer emphasis on using clean and hygienic products in your skin care and makeup routine.
Before, an airless bottle or jar could keep formulas safe while they were in the airless package but the dispenser and cap would quickly become hotspots for bacteria. This bacteria builds up every time a consumer touches the applicator before spreading the product on their face and skin.
Now, with this innovative plastic additive, a plastic cosmetic dispenser will remain clean. This antibacterial additive works at full capacity for the entirety of the package’s lifespan. The application of the facial serums, like vitamin C or other fragile formulas, can now be largely bacteria free, even after leaving the pipette that has been touched several times by consumer fingers.
Element’s new refillable mascara for MOB Beauty features CarbonX, one of your recent advancements in material science. Why can’t most black plastic be recycled and how is CarbonX different?
We are always searching for new ways to make packaging more recyclable. Black plastic looks sleek and modern so, naturally, a lot of beauty companies want to use it. However, traditional black plastic presents a lot of problems for recycling.
Many sorting and recycling technologies are based on optical spectroscopy- called Infra-red. Black plastics pose a challenge due to their poor reflectance of infra-red light, meaning most of it has been thrown away instead of recycled. This made black plastic one of the worst options for sustainability.
With the use of Element’s CarbonX, the reflective qualities of black plastic are vastly improved. This allows for proper sorting and recycling.
We are happy to offer all of our black plastic is available with CarbonX to help beauty brands introduce their packaging into the circular economy- without giving up on their desired look.
Consumers are more and more interested in sustainability. How have brands reacted to this?
As the global awareness regarding the issues with use of single use plastics grows, customers are taking a closer look at viable options. They want to trust that their favorite brands incorporate a responsible sustainability directive. Beauty brands turn to packaging manufacturers to help them achieve and maintain this trust.
Element’s mantra is Refill, Reuse, Renew and Reduce the use of single-use plastics.
One big win for recycling was the release of our new mono-material pump, which has been something that brands have been eager to source. Without the metal spring and different types of hard plastic that a traditional pump uses, our mono-material pump can be recycled easily.
It’s important to us that it is easier for brands to use fewer virgin materials and less material in general. We have developed flexible pouches that brands can use for refills of their products, like shampoos or soap. These pouches are made with PCR in every layer, including the hard plastic spouts. The pouches are available in a mono-material to make recycling that much easier.
Additionally, thin flexible packaging uses much less plastic. We encourage consumers to bring these flexible packages to the proper recycling places when they are finished. However, this isn’t always easy.
Consumers receive confusing messages about recycling and face unnecessary hurdles. We worked with Credo Beauty, MOB Beauty and Canadian retailer Hudson’s Bay to create Pact, a non-profit initiative that makes it easy for consumers to recycle components that are typically difficult or even impossible to recycle. This includes small parts and packaging that uses mixed or flexible materials. Once recycling is accessible and simple, more consumers are able to join in the circular economy.
What are the biggest trends in beauty and sustainability packaging?
One big trend is increased acceptability of new and innovative solutions. As consumers understand the importance of sustainable packaging and how it creatively translates to luxury and quality in skincare and color cosmetics, they will be inspired to use refills and reusable packaging.
Perception is key. If companies can make sustainable packaging that delights the consumer while looking beautiful, consumers will want it. Before, single use plastic was popular because it was convenient and cheap. Now, we are working to make sustainable packaging both ubiquitous and cost effective.
Our team helps support and inspire the brands with breakthrough innovation and material sciences. We work with brands to develop turnkey solutions, from paper outer shells, to packages made with a large percentage of PCR, to easy refillable solutions. Any brand can come to us with a problem they want to fix and we work with them to create something new that their loyal consumers will love.
What is next for Element?
As a packaging company, we have a big role to play in creating more sustainable options for the beauty industry. What’s more, we are seeing a big trend in home care. Home care is the new skin care, expect to see more of Element Packaging in this space in 2022.
’We’’ as a group want to continue providing a positive impact, all contributing to our circular economy. Including in the selection of materials and designing packaging that is most likely to be recycled by the greatest number of people.
Contact Element today to discuss the stock and turnkey solutions the company can offer your brand.