L’Oréal’s 2030 sustainable packaging goals require focus on circular beauty and partnerships, says director

In June 2020, international beauty titan L’Oréal unveiled its 2030 global sustainability plan “For the Future”​ – an extensive dossier of commitments covering plastic use, carbon emissions, carbon and ingredient supply. Among a plethora of targets, L’Oréal said that by 2030 it would ensure that all plastic packaging is recycled or bio-based; all company sites and centers were carbon neutral; and 95% of its ingredients were bio-based, derived from abundant or circular minerals.

Brice André, global director of sustainable packaging at L’Oréal, said the program hosts “bold goals”​ for the company, especially on the packaging side.

By 2030, L’Oréal wanted to reduce the overall quantity of packaging in its global portfolio by 20% compared to 2019; work to use “better plastics”​ – only recycled or biobased; and ensure that all plastics were “refillable, reusable or compostable”.

The full circularity of beauty packaging – upstream and downstream

Speaking to CosmeticsDesign-Europe, André said these 2030 goals require a significant “transformation” ​in packaging towards full circularity – upstream and downstream.

“Beauty packaging will be really about high circularity, with two loops. Upstream circularity, which is reusing and refilling, so the packaging doesn’t become waste too soon, and then downstream circularity, where the packaging becomes a resource thanks to recycling and composability”,he said.

And the upstream circularity was a “Very important”L’Oreal is currently focusing, he said, providing an exciting space that is expected to expand in the coming years as more of its mass and luxury brands roll out refills or reuse jars and packaging.

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the charging revolution ​is one of CosmeticsDesign-Europe’s top five EMEA beauty trends to watch in 2022 – as part of the wider circular beauty movement.

As L’Oréal continues to push forward with its circular goals, André said advances in materials science and product design will be equally important. “When, for example, we talk about advanced recycling – to expand the possibility of having circular plastics – we are talking about materials science. But we also design objects here; objects become products, which also calls for new designs in cooperation with new materials from science.

But whatever the goal – upstream or downstream – he said life cycle analysis would be key to advancing global sustainability. “The goal is to have less impact overall and not just less impact in one area.”

The consumer challenge – practical, efficient and attractive

“In fact, I truly believe the future of beauty packaging will be in eco-desirability – a combination of eco-friendly, or sustainable, and desirability.”

André said packaging design and product concepts also need to appeal to consumers. “In fact, I truly believe the future of beauty packaging will be in eco-desirability – a combination of eco-friendly, or sustainable, and desirability.”

The beauty packaging of the future, he said, had to have a “constantly improving environmental profile”keep staying “practical, efficient and attractive”.L’Oréal’s Sustainable Packaging Optimization Tool (SPOT) helped measure this, he said, by providing a score based on 14 impact criteria for a product, package or initiative to to ensure that no compromise has been made on the overall environmental profile.

But were consumers ready for lasting changes in beauty packaging, with reuse and refill models? “It’s probably a challenge, but some markets are changing,” andre said. “We’re seeing more buy-in for the recharge-reuse model, and we’re hopeful that this model will take off more in the future.”

As beauty brands like L’Oreal and others continue to innovate in this area, he said supporting consumers in this lasting change will be critical – the biggest task ahead. “The big challenge will be to have both consumers and all the different players really aligned on progress. And what I see as a major hurdle is understanding life cycle analysis.

Brice André, Global Director of Sustainable Packaging at L’Oréal

While the concept of recyclability was relatively straightforward for consumers, he said other aspects of packaging and the beauty supply chain were more complex to understand and therefore needed to be explained more carefully.

Scaling up these new packaging designs and concepts, ultimately driving greater consumer understanding and adoption, he said, required close internal innovation at L’Oréal, but also important external partnerships.

Multidisciplinary teams and smart partnerships between startups

L’Oréal was already operating with “very diverse”Consolidated multidisciplinary teams on packaging innovation, André said, bringing together industrial designers, consumer market insight analysts and user experience designers, among others, in a very close ecosystem. And those teams have worked together on a variety of projects, from early stages of new product development to redesigns of established brands, he said.

But beyond this internal work, he said external partnerships were key to advancing sustainable packaging goals.

“We partner with many newcomers to the neighborhood when it comes to packaging innovation.”L’Oréal, for example, worked with the French packaging specialist Albéa to develop cardboard beauty tubes and the Danish startup Paper Bottle Company on bio-sourced and recyclable paper bottles. The beauty major was also working with US recycling giant TerraCycle through its Loop program to produce food-grade PET. [Polyethylene terephthalate]as well as the American chemical company PureCycle on food-grade PP [Polypropylene].

L'Oréal has already launched the first cardboard beauty tubes under its La Roche-Posay brand [Image: L'Oréal]
L’Oréal has already launched the first cardboard beauty tubes under its La Roche-Posay brand [Image: L’Oréal]

“For us, being able to partner not only with our internal capabilities, but also with external capabilities is essential to address these challenges. The big, new goal is really to make sure that we partner with all the best startups and blue chip companies to achieve those goals.

Collaboration with other companies through consortia or multi-company partnerships, he said, was also essential – such as L’Oréal’s work with Nestlé Waters, PepsiCo and Suntory Beverage & Food Europe as part of its consortium co-founded with Carbios, working to develop infinitely recyclable bottles. ​. Its tie-up with energy giant Total and recycling leader LanzaTech for carbon-capture packaging materials is another prominent example.

“We all have to work together, that’s for sure. The more solutions we share, the better the future of sustainability and packaging will be,”said Andrew.