Facing up to responsibility
Excerpt from article written by Tony Corbin and published by Packaging News, 2015
Some brands are concerned that providing sustainable packaging might also be a financial stretch, a claim that Tracy Sutton, packaging design and brand sustainability consultant at Root, dismisses without equivocation. “The rumour that sustainable packaging is more expensive is absolutely not the case,” says Sutton. “A considered, holistic sustainable packaging strategy prioritises using the minimal amount of the best material. Whether this is at a local or global scale, less material equates to lower costs.
The cosmetics and fragrance industry, especially those in the prestige category have been under fire many times for excessive, extravagant packaging. There are beautiful, simple ways to package a product luxuriously if you choose the right material and explore more environmentally sound production processes such as embossing textures and adding print-free detailing. Consumers are more informed.”
Those evolved consumers seem to be demanding more environmentally friendly packaging and ethically sourced products. “Organic, natural and ethically sourced products are front of mind for a significant portion of consumers,” says Sutton.
“Many of the larger brands are including sustainability aspects into their design rosters too, which is a positive move forward. Sustainability will continue to play a part in the purchasing decision, but first and foremost come desirability and usability. Positive packaging and supply chain stories strengthen brand loyalty best if they are communicated through simple on-pack messaging or through supportive social media campaigns. These would be favoured over and above additional complex, misunderstood logos that add to the confusion consumers are faced with surrounding the environmental impact of their packaging.”
The Packaging (Essential Requirements) Regulations 2015, which came into force in October, revoked and replaced the Packaging (Essential Requirements) Regulations 2003 – introduced to reduce the impact that packaging has on the environment.
“Many of the smaller brands are unaware that the UK Packaging Regulations have just been updated in September this year,” added Sutton. “These guidelines should be used as a catalyst to deliver more environmentally sound packaging to consumers. The crucial factor here is to do it in a way where there is no compromise for consumers – with the right design approach it’s possible to improve environmental credentials and increase impact.”
Far from being an insurmountable challenge, the cosmetics packaging industry appears to thrive on the creativity that demand for sustainable packaging offers. Let’s hope that positive message is reaching the wider media and the general public.