Sticking a plastic straw in a mojito these days is about as PC as ivory cufflinks. Single-use plastic is the new moral outrage. It has been banned at Wetherspoons and Pret a Manger, and now McDonald’s is testing paper alternatives.
In the beauty packaging industry, however, single-use plastic remains the norm. Clearly, there are competitive advantages for brands that react to consumer demand – so why is it so hard to take positive action?
As Director of Design & Advanced Technologies at Quadpack Industries, I am immersed in debate and one thing has become abundantly clear. Going green in our sector is not quite as easy as might be thought, for a number of reasons.
First of all, the obvious replacements for plastic are flawed. There are alternatives sourced from organic material, such as sugar cane. While sourced from a sustainable material, this biopolymer is not biodegradable and leaves micro-plastics. Even using wood is not a guarantee of sustainability if it is not sourced from certified forests.
The second problem is price. Brands may want to embrace more environmentally-friendly techniques across their supply chain, but are faced with cost implications. A switch to sustainable materials can often double the cost of the packaging. For products in a competitive marketplace, it may not be viable to pass these extra costs on to consumers.
The third challenge is the level of understanding of the options. Some of the larger organisations have specialists devoted to exploring sustainable solutions, but many do not. This lack of knowledge is making the transition to sustainable materials so much harder.
If all that sounds gloomy, now it is time for the good news. There are solutions. In terms of materials, new technology is providing the breakthroughs we have been waiting for. For example, Sulapac, with whom we partner, produces a material made from wood chip and natural binders. It is water and oil resistant and is also truly biodegradable. It is potentially a game changer, offering all of the benefits of plastic without the plastic waste problem.
As scale kicks in, the cost of materials will fall, helping to break down the cost barriers. Also, our creative team routinely designs with sustainability in mind, for example, light-weighting where possible, which reduces cost impact. In any case, new products often bear a higher price, as consumers make up their minds about an acceptable price tag.
A massive plus is the attitude of the industry. Brands want to improve – this can be seen in the rise of life-cycle assessments – and consumer habits are also changing. Millennials care deeply about the environment. Brands that take the lead on sustainability can leap-frog cautious rivals.
Importantly, the investment climate is backing sustainable practices. Banks are embracing ESG (environment, social and governance) investment principles. The Norwegian sovereign fund, worth a trillion dollars, and French investment bank Société Generale, are prioritising ESG-compliant funds. They regard the risk-return matrix as superior, as responsible brands are less vulnerable to scandals and consumer desertion. The performance of ESG indexes support this, outperforming rival benchmarks, such as emerging markets, since 2012.
A positive outlook
What this adds up to is an industry with serious challenges, but a growing arsenal of solutions. Progress is slow but, at Quadpack, our plan is to guide the industry in the right direction. This year, we implemented a comprehensive CSR strategy. We have a sustainable packaging team dedicated to increasing our range of environmentally-friendly materials. Our wood factory is certified by the FSC and PEFC. We work with genuinely sustainable materials like Sulapac and team up with researchers across the globe to find new alternatives. We take the initiative on design. Even if you don't ask, we will usually come up with design changes which can save weight and improve the footprint of your product. As a global company – with offices in Europe, the US and Asia – we have the ability to harness innovation no matter where it happens. Together with our industry colleagues, we can make a huge impact in this complex but critical mission.
– Jeremy Garrard, Director of Design & Advanced Technologies
This article appeared in the Raconteur supplement ‘The Future of Packaging’ in The Times on 18 July 2018. Read the full publication here.
New Design & Advanced Technologies department concentrates on pro-active research and conceptual ideas
Beauty brands need packaging that protect and enable the formula, fit the brand and bring differentiation. Considering this triple requirement as early as possible is the focus of the new department of Design & Advanced Technologies at Quadpack Industries. Dedicated to proactive research into new trends, product ideas, techniques and materials, it aims to work alongside brands and contract manufacturers during the creation of their new formulations.
Customisation: make-up meets diversity
Women of mixed ethnicity constitute a target group that is set to growth exponentially. Yet their colour cosmetics needs are far from being met. As brands seek ways to cater to the many skin tones within this group, packaging will emerge as a key factor in 'serving the underserved'.
Niche is the new normal
It is every brand's wish to be different. In fragrance, where aesthetics rule, differentiation becomes even more important. In recent years, this has spurred a trend that has seen more and more niche brands appearing in an ever-crowded market. With a large percentage of the 2,000 global fragrance references launched by these niche players last year, the current status looks to be stabilising. In other words, niche is the new normal.
Quadpack trend directive: 3 emerging trends for 2019
Quadpack’s designers have developed three key trends based on architectural, fashion, art and demographic influences. Three trends which can be applied to beauty packaging to create surprising new designs ahead of the curve for forward-looking brands.
November 2017 Mix it! Blend it! Skincare goes BIY
Mixing facial treatments is an age-old tradition. Preparing your ingredients before applying them to your face turns skincare into a ritual. One that brings a feeling of wellbeing, of spending some precious 'me-time'. Whether blending your favourite colours or combining different products, this active involvement in the practice of skincare is trending – and packaging is here to help.
Navigating make-up's new frontier
The make-up game has changed. The dynamic of 'fast fashion', where customers expect to see something new from their favourite brands on an almost weekly basis, has impacted the colour cosmetics industry. Even for large companies, the lead time from product development to launch has gone from two years to less than three months.
Fragrance goes natural
The world is changing. New generations have new priorities, driven by an acute awareness of the need for sustainability. As the Millennials grow up, so their influence grows. While this generation does not have great spending power (yet!), these youngsters are demanding products and practices that respect the planet. Fragrance brands are quick to recognise this demand, understanding that their own efforts at sustainability can only benefit by meeting their needs.
Quadpack trend directive: 3 emerging trends for 2018
Quadpack's creative team identifies the next big trends in the beauty industry. Its Trend Directive takes a global view of major cultural trends, including consumer lifestyles, and predicts how these will influence formulations, as well as packaging.
Changing times in the fragrance industry
As trends go, perfumery is more enduring than other beauty sectors like colour cosmetics or skincare. This area is less fickle and changeable and more inclined to embrace classic sophistication. Nevertheless, change does happen and is happening now, much of it driven by the new generation of consumers. Isabelle de Maistre, Quadpack's Perfumery Category Manager explains.
Make-up meets skin care
It's a fact that make-up and skin care are growing ever closer, and it's the packaging that makes it possible. With formulas combining all kinds of benefits, ranging from anti-ageing treatment, through SPF, to colour, new designs allow favourite cosmetics to be delivered through multi-function packs. The same pack that's good for cream is now often also good for make-up. Sonia Cerato, Quadpack Make-Up Category Manager explains.
Beauty on the go: Packaging trends seen by Quadpack
The pressure is on for today's busy woman. Increased self-consciousness, pushed by the pressure of social media, compounds her accelerated life rhythm, nurturing the demand for smart beauty products. These must allow beauty routines to be applied anytime, anywhere. Packaging providers are responding with ever more innovative solutions, riding the wave of this rising trend: Beauty on the go.
Quadpack demonstrates forward-thinking in eco friendly beauty packaging
Earth-friendly containers help save resources, energy, money and, of course, the environment. For cosmetics brands, however, such words may conjure up images of low-quality bottles, jars and tubes, that look cheap and perform accordingly. Now more than ever, this could not be farther from the truth. Today's reality is that sustainable packaging can look and perform as well as concepts devised without the planet in mind, while tying in with a rising public awareness.
Fragrance, who to be today?
Stylish, subtle, lively, distinguished. Perfume allows consumers to be whoever they want. That makes choosing a fragrance an emotional choice, with packaging a key decision-making factor. Quapack, in partnership with Premi, offers a full range of perfume bottles, from classic shapes and slim vials, to avant-garde formats for niche brands like children's cologne.
Packaging goes 'eco-chic'
Gone are the days when organic cosmetics meant low-cost, do-it-yourself recipes of dubious results. The concept of natural beauty now encompasses the whole spectrum of cosmetics, with high-end luxury brands offering first-class organic treatments, free from artificial ingredients. The beauty sector now goes even beyond organic formulas, to encompass environmentally-friendly packaging, under the new umbrella of 'eco-chic'.
New foamers tested with a functional mock-up
New formula? New delivery method? No problem! Apollo’s patented foam pumps can be tested with your formulation fast, thanks to the advanced technology of its four seasons climate control testing machine and its ability to create functional mock-up samples that look like they are made from an actual production mould.
- Jo Webb
- Company News -> QP Corporate News
- Created 24 OCT 2018
- Modified 25 OCT 2018
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