Recent research shows a growing trend in post-consumer recycled (PCR) materials, lightweight packaging and bio-based materials, as environmentally sustainable alternatives to conventional packaging in the personal care industry. Additionally, refillability, compostability, paper-based and package-free options are also making their mark.
However, a report by Yale University’s Anja Nikolova details that brands frequently struggle to strike a balance between design and environmental sustainability. The study examines a few best practices from companies that manufacture cosmetics and personal care products optimized for package appeal and sustainability in the consumer market.
The FMCG industry is one of the largest contributors to the world economy. In the US it accounts for 10% of GDP spending and provides employment for one in ten people, according to Nikolova’s research. Paper and paperboard, plastic, metal, glass and mixtures of these materials are the most commonly used components in this packaging sector. But the recovery and recyclability of each material differ according to geography.
Prints and prototypes
Household packaging is also experiencing a shift toward better environmental sustainability, with the industry minimizing material use and developing recyclable, refillable and reusable solutions. SP Group, for example, is increasingly using digital printing on its packaging with biodegradable inks that consume less energy. Similarly, the HolyGrail 2.0 digital watermarks initiative is currently under way to improve the sorting of packaging waste and boost recycling rates. The initiative’s first prototype demonstrated consistently high results across all tested plastic packaging material categories, recording 99% detection, 95% ejection and 95% purity rates on average.
Household packaging player Berry is designing and manufacturing many products to satisfy the sustainability trend. These include its B Circular range of lighter, recyclable packs and its range of pumps and sprays designed with monomaterial.
Berry has emphasized another trend in graphic design. Brands are seeking to make products look more “authentic” by using a traditional name or graphic presentation. There are also moves towards “natural” – by mimicking natural materials in print form – and “nostalgia,” using design iconography from past eras. Art deco, the 1950s and 1960s inspired looks are particularly popular at the moment, according to the company.
With the current economic challenges, Berry is also seeing customers seeking “value” packaging, with solutions that are more cost-effective or deliver enhanced consumer benefits.