Sulapac CEO: Truly sustainable packaging is crucial to long-term market success
29 Jul 2021 --- Environmental sustainability is a must for cosmetic packaging, but it also has to be functional and aesthetically beautiful to offer a true alternative to conventional solutions, according to Dr. Suvi Haimi, CEO and co-founder of Sulapac.
Haimi speaks to PackagingInsights about her company’s wood-based packs and how they can be a viable alternative to hard-to-recycle cosmetic packaging formats.
“Consumers are demanding more eco-friendly alternatives and this will also become a more important feature in packaging. We believe that being truly sustainable in the long term is the only way to be successful in the market.”
“Among trends that we have seen gaining interest with customers are different refill concepts and take back systems. We believe that it is time to act now and Sulapac offers a sustainable solution to today’s cosmetic packaging.”
Vast amounts of plastic
From moisturizer, lip balm, sunscreen to body butter, most cosmetics products are packaged in plastic jars and bottles.
“Few of us consider that even when plastic items are still in use, they release tiny microplastic particles that end up in nature, animals and human bodies,” Haimi highlights.
Sulapac says it’s no secret the beauty industry creates vast amounts of plastic waste.
In the US alone, almost 8 billion plastic units were manufactured just for the beauty and personal care industry in 2018, according to the company.
Sulapac offers materials to its packaging manufacturing partners who convert them into ready-made products for cosmetics, supplements and other segments.
“Our material doesn’t leave any permanent microplastics behind and we always aim to minimize our carbon footprint. Sulapac is made of wood and plant-based binders. The wood is a side stream from the forest industry,” Haimi says.
The need for recycling infrastructure
Products are often not recycled according to their specifications, as it is difficult for consumers to find suitable recycling outlets.
According to Haimi, if the recycling infrastructure is available, industrial composting is a preferred recycling method for Sulapac, enabling carbon to efficiently return to circulation.
“If the infrastructure doesn’t exist locally and Sulapac products are disposed of, for example, among mixed waste and end up in incineration, they burn more cleanly than conventional plastics and become bioenergy without harmful toxic gases,” she explains.
“Also, even if Sulapac ended up in a landfill or in nature due to unfortunate misuse, we have tested that Sulapac biodegrades also in an open environment in the sense that it doesn’t leave permanent microplastics or other toxic residues behind.”
The company has also started its first take back program, collecting the used packages from the market and mechanically recycling them into new products.
However, the journey toward sustainable packaging is not without its challenges, ranging from material difficulties to recycling limitations.
“Sustainability is not enough. Recyclability is not enough. Several sustainable packaging options compromise too much: for instance, cardboard may be incompatible with the product and will not necessarily protect it from moisture or oxidizing,” says Haimi.
“We offer solutions to oil- and water-based cosmetics and for color cosmetics. For a long time, water-based products have been challenging to pack in sustainable and biodegradable packaging.”
Sulapac recently launched a new solution, which makes it possible to put water-based cosmetic products into Sulapac packaging.For this specific need,
Big players go green
Eco-conscious brands focusing on natural and clean beauty were among the first to turn to more environmentally sustainable packaging solutions.
It has also become a key way for independent, emerging luxury brands to make a statement about their mission and values. Now, the trend is beginning to expand to mainstream brands and luxury brands, Sulapac says.
“In the cosmetics segment, Sulapac has collaborated on packaging with brands such as I+M, Edinburgh Skincare, RDP Skincare, Akane, and more. The French luxury brand Chanel is one of our investors,” Haimi details.
“The [environmental sustainability] change is inevitable. People trust brands and companies to take action toward a more sustainable future – and do so without compromising on quality.”
“For the beauty industry, this means all brands from mainstream to luxury need to find sustainable solutions for both packages and what is inside them,” Haimi concludes.
By Kristiana Lalou
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