A decidedly topical subject that is very chatty. We talk about stackable packaging, intelligent, sensitive, able to communicate with the refrigerator and to control the integrity of the food it contains …, but one thing is certain, it will not be plastic. The sea alert, where real waste islands are floating, has taken the issue globally. It is estimated that in 2050, in our oceans, there will be more plastic than fish in our oceans. Awareness of this problem among the younger generations is also positive.
Industry is moving towards a more sustainable system, for example by creating simpler envelopes and other packaging to recycle or by keeping non-recyclable materials out of the waste stream for as long as possible. In the UK and Iceland within five years plastic packaging from Private Labels will disappear, replaced by paper or cellulose trays and bags. By 2020, Ikea will begin to remove all disposable plastic products, such as plates, cups and freezer bags, from its shops and restaurants. However, the real opportunity for brands does not lie in the economic and logistical advantage of simplified packaging, but in creating a greater affinity with the market: sustainable packaging becomes a tool for demonstrating the brand’s ecological awareness. In short, recycling can become an element of brand coolness, entering as a basic ingredient in the creative and design process. The brand’s reputation – and therefore its values of ethical and environmental awareness – finds in packaging a new and additional leverage element.
For some types of products we also talk about “Nude packaging”. But obviously this, even if hypothetically feasible, is an extremity. A lot is beginning to be seen about food: many supermarkets, even in America (Whole Foods, for example) have abolished plastic and in New Zealand, for example, the first ‘naked’ supermarket has been launched in the sense that each product is unpacked, including vegetables (you can use a rope sporta, recyclable of course). Foodstuffs, which controls three different chains of food supermarkets, has signed the New Zealand Plastic Packaging Declaration with which it is intended to eliminate by 2025 the packaging – plastic packaging – from fruit and vegetables or, where necessary, use it 100% compostable or recyclable. After the “Food in the nude” initiative, sales of vegetables increased by 300 percent. In Italy, many supermarkets sell such products, but they are a minority compared to the hard plastic boxes with which ready-made salads are sold, for example.
Very involved in the topic is also the beauty. Think of the packages of paper, cardboard, plastic which are usually wrapped in creams and perfumes. The brand eco – beauty Lush for example is working hard in the no packaging increasing continuously the products without any wrapping and opting for example for soaps bath foam and shampoo 100% vegan sold without packaging and usable by consumers reusing the same container always. “The packaging is garbage and for too long we have had to suffer too much. Now that the real financial and environmental costs are becoming apparent, customers are challenging manufacturers and retailers to cut the plastic,” said Lush co-founder Mark Constantine. The brand has been pushing the naked packaging since 2017 and in June 2018 opened the world’s first Naked Lush Shop in Milan, two floors of unpackaged cosmetics or reusable containers. Davines, a brand that is an excellence of Made in Italy, not only has always been committed to biodiversity and sustainability (Sustaining Beauty is its claim), but was among the first to use a totally recyclable packaging using for example bio-based or recycled plastic or recycled paper allowing the reduction of the total impact of the product by reducing emissions of greenhouse gases, energy and water used.
FutureBrand has identified four steps to become a sustainable brand:
- TELL A STORY
As did G-Star, the clothing brand that with its Raw line, removes plastic from the seas and tells a compelling and positive story with an exceptional testimonial: Pharrel Williams.
- INNOVATE, ALWAYS
Carlsberg is ready to abandon the plastic headbands that hold her beer cans together. In their place, she will glue the cans with a special glue, of course, biocompatible. Procter & Gamble has partnered with US recycling specialist Terracycle to produce the first “Head and Shoulders” shampoo bottle with oceanic plastic.
- THE DESIGN OF RECYCLING
L’Oréal has launched Seed Phytonutrients, a line of eco-sustainable beauty products. The bottles contain 60% less plastic than standard packaging. The outer layer is made of recyclable, compostable and waterproof paper, while the interior is made of recycled food grade plastic.
With the claim: “The best coffees in the world, in a way that is the best for the world”, the English start-up Halo produces premium coffee packaged in biodegradable capsules demonstrating that practicality and sustainability can coexist. The capsules are made of bamboo and paper pulp and dissolve completely in 90 days, without any industrial composting.