Beauty and the Packaging Beast

By Cassandra Gagnon

With annual e-commerce transactions now at 40 billion and rising, beauty brands can do their bit to combat #packagingfail. They can also save money at the same time, making it a win-win for the planet and for the bottom line.

With sustainability a huge priority for consumers and businesses, beauty brands find themselves in a challenging position. Customers are watching closely for any sustainability-unfriendly slip-ups, and calling them out loudly with #packagingfail comments on social media. At the same time, the most environmentally friendly packaging solutions often cost more to produce.

So how can brands do the right thing by consumers and the planet, without passing the costs on to the business bottom line? We speak to WGSN Beauty’s Beauty Editor Emma Grace Bailey, and take inspiration from innovative packaging company Flexi-Hex.

One key area where savings can be made is e-commerce, a sector that consumers may not associate with sustainability-damaging practices, but which is in fact, a major culprit.

“With e-commerce being so one-click easy, more and more of us are doing it, making over 40 billion transactions each year. That’s a lot of delivery packaging,” explains Bailey.

“Added to that are the emissions of the delivery vans, the international flights and shipping – and our own impatience. We want our orders yesterday, so retailers are unable to consolidate deliveries into more eco-friendly shipments. And there’s more. Online shopping also means online returns, so the packaging and transport issues kick in all over again.”

Bailey cites two major problems brands face when making packaging decisions.

“E-commerce packaging holds particular challenges for beauty brands since the fragile products require substantial amounts of padding and protection: a make-up palette that arrives cracked is not just a waste of the delivery packaging but of the product itself. And then there’s the nature of active ingredients, which often need to be kept in specific packaging types to remain stable and effective. Retinol and vitamin C can’t be packaged in cardboard.”

There’s also the issue of a brand’s bottom line.

“At the moment it will definitely increase the cost of your packaging,” says Bailey, although she remains optimistic. “I’m assuming over the years the costs will come down. The more we use it, the better it will be overall for everyone.”  Read Full Article

Want to hear how WGSN’s beauty experts feel about the future of beauty? Sign up now for our exclusive presentations of Sustainable Packaging: Thinking out of the box and Future of Beauty: Meet your new beauty tribes at Cosmotalks at Cosmoprof Asia 2019. Register now to secure your entry to the fair.


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