The global beauty and cosmetics industry is a vibrant sector worth $35
billion in 2020. Like many industries it has suffered the effects of the
Covid-19 pandemic, with many bricks-and-mortar high street retail outlets
forced to close. The pandemic has accelerated the rise of online selling,
with leading brands such as L`Oreal reporting an increase in e-commerce
sales on its own websites, including those of its partners, of 62 percent
in 2020. With so many people spending time at home during the lockdowns and
periods of self-isolation, wellness and self-care have become important
factors in many people`s lives. Now the western economies are opening up
again, as the world attempts to return to some semblance of normality. What
the beauty and cosmetics packaging industry looks like in five year’s time is
a challenging question. I will attempt to provide some pointers to this in
The market 2021-2026
I estimate the global beauty and cosmetics packaging market will grow in
value by an annual average rate of four percent per annum over the 2021-2026
period. Much of the growth will come from Asia-Pacific territories, notably
China, where the country will become the vehicle of growth for the beauty
market. L`Oreal said earlier in 2021 that China is now its second biggest
market by revenue, after the USA. Over the next five years it is possible that
China will become its biggest market by revenue. In Asia-Pacific countries,
the packaging sector is set to benefit from the growth in middle classes,
the rapid rise in demand for branded and upmarket products and an improved
North America and Western Europe will show below average growth rates.
However, the continuing consumer interest in beauty products, particularly a
growing demand for wellness and skin-care products, fuelled by the needs of
an ageing population with greater disposable income, will aid market growth.
Rigid plastics will continue to be the most used material for the packaging
of personal care products, accounting for 50 percent of the total market.
The use of the material for pumps, sprays, dispensers and closures will also
continue to grow.
However it is the important issue of improvements in the use of more
sustainable material solutions where urgent action is needed by the consumer
goods packaging sector.
Sustainability solutions in the beauty and cosmetics packaging industry
Arguably, the beauty and cosmetics packaging industry has not been as
proactive and progressive as some would have liked in its efforts to improve
environmental performance. However progressive companies are addressing this
issue and achieving much in the battle for improved environmental
performance. Sulapac is a great case in point. The company is a Finnish
start-up, established in 2016. Its products are designed for brands seeking
to eliminate plastic waste and demonstrate a commitment to sustainability.
Sulapac`s products use biodegradable and micro-plastic free materials made
from FSC-certified wood chips and natural binders. One of the world`s
leading beauty companies, Chanel, has invested in Sulapac. Quadpack is a
preferred global cosmetic packaging partner of the company. In May 2021 German cosmetics brand I+M introduced a deodorant cream for its “We Reduce” range in a 30ml biodegradable jar from the Sulapac Nordic Collection,
produced by Quadpack. The Rose Deodorant Cream`s packaging is a plant-based
biocomposite that biodegrades without leaving permanent microplastics
behind. It is a sustainable alternative to conventional plastic and fully
recyclable via industrial composting. The We Reduce series was a finalist in
the German Sustainability Design Award 2021, because of its plastic-free
concept and certified natural cosmetics.
Carbios` and L`Oreal
As an industry leader in the beauty and cosmetics industry L`Oreal is making
positive progress in the drive towards greater sustainability. In 2017
L`Oreal established a consortium with Carbios` for developing new plastic
recycling solutions. Carbios` is a green chemistry company, established in
2011 by Truffle Capital. Its quest is to develop biological and innovative
processes to revolutionize the end of life of plastics and textiles. The
company`s objective is to meet the challenges of plastic and textile
pollution. In July 2021 L`Oreal introduced a cosmetic bottle made entirely
from recycled plastic using Carbios` enzymatic technology. The process uses
an enzyme capable of depolymerizing PET contained in various plastics such
as bottles and trays. It is essentially an alternative to mechanical
recycling. The innovation allows infinite recycling of all types of PET
waste. It also allows the production of 100 percent recycled and 100 percent recyclable PET products with the same quality as if they were produced
with virgin PET. L`Oreal has said it will produce the new bottles by 2025,
with Biotherm selected as the first launch brand. The bottles are currently
at a pilot phase and L`Oreal is confident that it can provide the packaging
of the future. Indeed the company`s new sustainability programme aims by
2025 to make 100 percent of its packaging refillable, reusable,
recyclable or compostable. By 2030 L`Oreal says that 100 per cent of its
plastic packaging will be derived from recycled or bio-sourced materials.
After this time the company will not use any petrochemical virgin materials.
The future of the beauty and cosmetics industry
L`Oreal is not alone in its quest for greater sustainability. Its partners
in the Carbios` consortium include industry leaders in other sectors,
including Nestle Waters, PepsiCo and Suntory Beverage & Food Europe. This is
indicative of the urgency within the consumer goods industry to meet the
challenges of creating a more sustainable world. The circular economy still
has some way to go before it is established in all sectors of the packaging
industry and indeed the whole economy. Major companies have realised that if
actions are not taken soon the world is facing an environmental catastrophe.
Environmental pressure groups, retailers and consumers are driving the
discussion and debate forward to ensure positive actions do happen. The
European Union and national governments have an important role to play in
Europe, the USA and elsewhere, supporting environmental initiatives, post
Covid-19. The beauty and cosmetics packaging industry must now play its
part to ensure the success of the projects I have outlined in this article
and elsewhere. The challenges are immense – the failure to achieve targets is
not an option anyone wishes to consider.
Neil Farmer, Managing Director, Neil Farmer Associates
One of the world’s leading authorities on packaging and a fellow of the Institute of Packaging. Author of Trends in Packaging of Food, Beverages and other fast-moving Consumer Goods (FMCG), published by Elsevier.