One after the other, Whole Foods, Procter & Gamble and Unilever (among others ... I could add Stonyfield Farm, KFC, Odwalla in food, to the list...) have announced major initiatives in terms of sustainable development - all of which relate to product packaging.
- In early September, Whole Foods Market released its new "Sustainable Packaging Guidelines", applicable to all cosmetic products and food supplements. "The guidelines mandate that suppliers reduce the use of plastic in product packaging, encourage the switch to glass when possible, limit acceptable packaging materials to those that are easily reused or recycled, and/or feature the highest percentage of PCR content. Suppliers were given one year to transition to more eco-friendly packaging". These guidelines were drawn up in collaboration with 25 Whole Foods' suppliers and are currently applied to the private label of the brand: the volumes of food supplements of 365° are entirely of recyclable PET ... and the brand has adopted a pictograph that guarantees it.
- Procter & Gamble will increase the volume of plastic made from sugarcane (100% recyclable - supplied by Braskem, a Brazilian company) for its brands - Pantene, Max Factor and Cover Girl. Natura Brasil will also be using the same material.
- Unilever finally announced its "Sustainable Living Plan" - which aims to halve the environmental impact of the group by 2020.
Two different approaches should be distinguished:
- The PCR approach (post consumer recycled) implemented by Whole Foods for its private labels: it consists of using recycled materials.
- The "cradle to cradle" approach, much more sophisticated – adopted, for example, by Kiehl's - and accorded a certification (C2C) which measures the toxicity of ingredients used, the extent of recycling, the energy and water used, the social accountability of the company.
All these initiatives are particularly interesting: although they are dispersed, with very different approaches from one company to another, they illustrate the growing importance of sustainable development strategies in beauty.