Beauty Store Business magazine - January, 2020

Unilever Leads With Unprecedented Sustainable Packaging Commitment

Remarkably, Unilever announced today its plan to implement reusable packaging innovations across nine of its brands, including four new product formats.

The new products will be trialed on Loop, a global, first-of-its-kind, waste-free shopping system.

Bringing together a coalition of consumer goods companies, along with international recycling leader TerraCycle, Loop is an innovative new business model for premium durable packaging, which is delivered directly to the consumer, returned and refilled. The platform also offers the opportunity to work with others at scale to test reuse models and shift consumer behavior, which will help make circular packaging systems commercially viable.

Premium skincare brand REN Clean Skincare, Hellmann’s, Love Beauty and Planet, Love Home and Planet and Seventh Generation will trial new reusable packaging made from aluminum and glass.

Three Unilever brands will also be the first to test new formats within the Loop system. World leading deodorant brands Dove, Degree and AXE, together reaching over one billion people globally every year, will test a premium, refillable deodorant stick called minim.

Made from stainless steel, the design is minimal, compact and sustainable, offering a new consumer experience without any unnecessary materials. Dependent on usage, the product will last on average one month, with the packaging designed to last at least 100 cycles. This means that each pack is expected to last about eight years, with the potential to save up to 100 packs from being thrown away.

Unilever’s participation in Loop complements its existing efforts to create a plastic system that works and a packaging system that is truly circular by design. In 2017, Unilever committed to all of its plastic packaging being reusable, recyclable or compostable by 2025. Good progress has been made against these targets, with absolute packaging volumes flat since 2010, despite the business growing significantly over this period. However, Unilever is determined to further reduce its use of single-use plastics.

Alan Jope, CEO of Unilever said: “We want to put an end to the current “take-make-dispose” culture and are committed to taking big steps towards designing our products for re-use. We’re proud to be a founding partner of Loop, which will deliver our much-loved brands in packaging which is truly circular by design.”

Unilever's commitment to sustainable packaging is unprecedented and strongly suggests to beauty manufacturers that sustainable packaging will soon become the norm. The company has developed the Unilever Sustainable Living Plan (USLP), which underpins the company’s goal of helping more than a billion people take action to improve their health and well-being by 2020 and halving the environmental impact of its products by 2030.

The USLP makes good business sense for Unilever. Globally, the company’s sustainable living brands grew 46 percent faster than the rest of the business and delivered more than 70 percent of the company’s growth in 2017. In a press release, Unilever states that it "creates value by driving growth and trust, eliminating costs and reducing risks."