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🌱 Packing it all in: Why Floral Street are utilising pulp, and your guide to the difference between sustainable and low-carbon packaging.
NEWSLETTER 100: Featuring Floral Street Perfumes, Pip & Nut, Farmless and more...
Welcome to our 100th newsletter! Whether you’ve been here since Newsletter 1, or Newsletter 99, thank you for joining us on our journey to dig into how consumer goods brands are innovating to become more sustainable. We’re truly grateful, and we’re excited for what’s to come over the next 100.
If you’ve enjoyed reading Following the Footprints, or you have feedback and ideas for us to carry forward, we’d love to hear from you - you can reply directly to this newsletter to get in touch with the team.
Let’s dig in - this week we cover:
Quick Take: Sustainable vs Low-carbon Packaging: What’s the difference?
Brand Spotlight: Perfume and Pulp: How Floral Street are challenging the luxury fragrance market.
In case you missed it: 🌱PANGAIA Knows Best: 5 Packaging Innovations Your Brand Can Try. Featuring PANGAIA, Finisterre, M&S, REN Clean Skincare and more.
> Good News Last Week
🎯 Pip & Nut announced that their founder Pip Murray is joining the B Lab UK board. Her expertise on food systems and global supply chains as a force of good is valuable to the board as Pip & Nut is the fastest growing nut butter brand in the UK, since being B Corp Certified in 2019.
🎯 Farmless announced that they are growing single-cell microbial protein with a liquid feedstock made from CO2 and Hydrogen, Green Ammonia and minerals as feedstock - decoupling food production from arable land to reverse biodiversity crisis.
🎯 Coolhaus announced that they’re expanding their ice cream flavours that uses Perfect Day’s animal-free dairy to Hong Kong, at Wellcome Supermarkets. Their products are cholesterol and lactose-free, uses precision fermentation that uses less water and energy compared to the conventional dairy production.
⭐️ Allbirds released their first-ever golf shoe. They use natural materials such as merino wool and eucalyptus fibres, as well as recycled bottles for shoe laces and recycled cardboard for their packaging.
⭐️ Innocent Drinks published their Good All Round report, highlighting their key achievements every year, including how 17% of their drinks are now carbon neutral!
⭐️ Stora Enso, Blue Ocean Closures and Aisa launched the “first ever” paperboard tube with a fiber-based closure, aiming for whole packaging recyclability, at the Interpack Trade Show in Germany. This innovation is expected to be commercially available in 2024 which are intended for use in cosmetics, personal or homecare.
⭐️ Pernod Ricard signed its first sustainability-linked loan of €2.1 billion. This will be used to refinance an existing facility, whilst aiming to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and reduce water consumption per unit at its distilleries.
⚡ eBay UK is partnering with Climate Partner to help small businesses in the UK to accelerate their sustainability journey, by providing advice on measuring and managing their carbon footprint.
> Click on each link to read more.
> Quick Take
Sustainable vs Low-carbon Packaging: What’s the difference?
Packaging is leaving some FMCG players’ Scope 3 emissions in tatters. As major consumer-facing companies commit to ambitious net-zero goals, packaging is increasingly being prioritised in decarbonisation plans. As a result, brands are taking important steps to opt for more “sustainable packaging”. For example, ASOS, Marks and Spencer, and Unilever are reducing their packaging and increasing either the recycled content or recyclability of their materials, or both.
But this leaves us wondering what even is sustainable packaging? Is this the same as low carbon packaging? Let’s unpack the differences…
Sustainable packaging: waste and pollution
Sustainable packaging encompasses all aspects that impact the environment, aiming to minimise harm. Emphasising recycling as a waste reduction technique, brands focus on using recycled materials (recycled content) and ensuring ease of recycling (recyclability) at the end of the product's life cycle. Yet, despite efforts, a mere 10% of plastic packaging in the UK is actually recycled. The remaining waste is either incinerated or exported to other countries, with no guarantee of proper recycling
Plastic packaging has a bad reputation for pollution, and rightly so. Instead of degrading fully, it breaks down into smaller pieces which leach into ecosystems and now are even found in the food we eat. According to WRAP, one third of plastic packaging used contributes to pollution. Despite this contribution, plastic packaging is still in high use, leading to confusion about what constitutes sustainable packaging.
What is ‘low-carbon’ packaging?
Similarly, the definition of "low-carbon" packaging varies depending on the carbon assessment performed. The system boundary (e.g., cradle-to-grave or cradle-to-gate), a crucial consideration in assessing the carbon footprint, greatly influences the results. Despite the negative waste impact at the end of its life cycle, plastic is favoured during manufacturing because it is cheap, easy to make, and has a smaller environmental impact in terms of pollution and carbon emissions than paper (specifically comparing plastic and paper bags). This further complicates the understanding of sustainable packaging.
So, what should brands consider?
A holistic approach is needed when considering material use to limit the negative impacts of packaging throughout its life cycle. This includes accounting for the external context (like a country’s recycling rate) at the raw material extraction, manufacturing, usage and disposal stages. Focusing on a single environmental factor may distort the sustainability credentials of packaging materials. Globally recognised certifications like Cradle-to-Cradle advocate for a comprehensive approach, considering material health, circularity, social fairness, water and soil stewardship, and clean air and climate protection to ensure a truly sustainable approach.
Fortunately, the market offers a plethora of sustainable options, with new packaging brands like Notpla and Great Wrap entering the scene. By embracing a truly sustainable approach and making informed choices, brands can contribute to minimising the negative impact of packaging on the environment.
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> Brand Spotlight
Perfume and Pulp: How Floral Street are challenging the luxury fragrance market.
The global perfume industry is worth a gargantuan $51bn a year. Despite constituting a significant portion of the beauty industry, fragrances are often overlooked in discussions on how our predilection for self-care impacts the planet. Yet, with heavy glass bottles, plastic pumps and reliance on volatile organic compounds (VOCs; fossil-fuel derived greenhouse gases), perfume brands don’t always come out smelling of roses. That is, until Floral Street entered the scent scene in 2017. Here, we take a look at how Floral Street has expertly blended three crucial components to make a sustainable fragrance brand that hits all the right notes.
1. Ingredients and production
We don’t tend to think of ‘nice’ smells as harmful - yet research shows that VOCs from scented products cause just as much petrochemical pollution as cars. In fact, pollution from cosmetic and household products accounts for 50% of all fossil fuel VOC emissions. With a 4-6% growth in use of these compounds predicted by 2025, a worrying trend seems to be emerging in the perfume industry. Natural isn’t necessarily better, with over-harvesting and the use of monocultures causing their own environmental degradation. Transparency and traceability of ingredients, sourced as locally as possible, is key.
Floral Street partners with Robertet, world leaders in sustainable ingredient sourcing. Not only do Robertet guarantee traceability from seed to scent, their master perfumer carefully chooses each ingredient (all certified cruelty-free) and assesses whether natural or synthetic choices are the most environmentally sound on a case-by-case basis. For example, their Electric Rhubarb scent uses Australian sandalwood instead of the usual Indian, as the latter is over-harvested.
2. End-to-end consideration
Floral Street founder Michelle Feeney has a clear goal: “from source to scent, we want consumers to know where we come from”. To achieve this, they implement the ‘5 Rs’ - rethink, reduce, reuse, repurpose, recycle - across all areas of the business.
For example, their products are designed to last the customer longer by having a higher concentration of powerful oils. Candles and diffuser vessels can be reused, and the brand offers a refill service at their flagship Covent Garden store. Even their gift ribbons are made from recycled plastic bottles.
While 0% plastic use and true Zero Carbon operations aren’t yet achievable by the 5 Rs, Floral Street carefully selects partners for effective compensatory schemes. Working with conservation charity the World Land Trust, the brand has helped to protect 14000m2 of rainforest. Meanwhile, their partnership with CleanHub has supported the removal of 1000kg of ocean-bound plastic so far this year. You can track their progress here.
Floral Street’s innovative perfume containers are arguably the brand’s pièce de résistance and a ‘world first’ for the perfume industry. The brand’s perfumes are packaged in fully recyclable, reusable and biodegradable boxes. These innovative boxes designed by James Cropper are made from a mixture of wet pulp, recycled FSC-certified paper, recycled fibres and one up-cycled coffee cup.
While the creation of the box takes less than a minute (meaning their manufacture is minimally energy-intensive), they can last for years. In fact, the box has the potential to be fully circular, as it can even be repurposes to grow seeds. To top it all off, waste water from their creation is cleaned and recycled, and waste pulp is used for composting on local farms.
Floral Street’s fragrances are true to their name - delicate, light, floral. Yet, the brand has not forgotten its roots, and its earthy packaging is testament to that. It’s no wonder it’s been accumulating accolades, including Marie Claire’s Gold Sustainability Award and an Allure Best of Beauty Award. With plans to expand in North America, the future is looking rosy for Floral Street.
Take a closer look at Floral Street:
> In case you missed it
🌱PANGAIA Knows Best: 5 Packaging Innovations Your Brand Can Try
Featuring PANGAIA, Finisterre, M&S, REN Clean Skincare and more...
> Follow up with…
Article: Packaging: what to watch for in 2023
Workbook: Disruptive Design Method Handbook
Event: Tony’s FAIR - 8th June