In 2019, Albéa drew up its sustainable roadmap for 2020-2025. The French packaging manufacturer has now shed more light on those targets with the publication of its 2020 sustainability report.
The company has affirmed that 100% of its packaging must be recyclable, reusable or compostable by 2025. For plastic packaging, this objective compares to the 2019 baseline of 13%. Citing 2016 data from McKinsey and the Ellen McArthur foundation, Albéa highlights that worldwide, just 14% of plastic packaging is collected for recycling.
The company’s aim is to make plastics recyclable in municipal circuits, Gilles Swyngedauw, Albéa vice president marketing, innovation & sustainability, told Luxe Packaging Insight in an interview last year. “It's the use of plastic that is the problem and not plastic itself. So-called "responsible" packaging can very well embrace plastic as it is light, durable and very versatile, offers unparalleled protective properties, and has a low-carbon and economical production process,” he said. “Nevertheless, at Albéa, work is in progress to gradually eliminate certain polymers, including POM, SAN, and ABS.”
Albéa is aiming for 100% of innovation projects to meet its responsible packaging criteria by 2025, up from 50% in 2019. This will include identifying new materials and ensuring their supply, as well as innovating in manufacturing processes as new materials require new production methods. Last year, for example, Albéa inked an agreement with Erpro 3D Factory geared towards manufacturing cosmetics packaging components via 3D printing on an industrial scale. All this requires significant investment; in 2019, Albéa spent some $98m (excluding acquisitions), of which 8% was allocated to “responsible” projects. In 2020, this share is said to increase to 39%.
To achieve its targets, the supplier highlights the need for more collaboration—it recently launched the first paper-based tube with L’Oréal-owned La Roche Posay—as well as a need for consumers to accept the consequences of the changes they are calling for. “Post-consumer recycled material undoubtedly has its limits: it isn't as white as virgin sources and in luxury this can be a problem given the high levels of quality required,” noted Swyngedauw. “For luxury, I believe we are moving towards reuse; we need to change how some packs are used. It will no longer be a question of simple packaging, but of objects that can be reused as much as possible in a bid to make the pack even more qualitative.”
Albéa says it is working closely with recycling associations, is a signatory of the Ellen MacArthur Foundation’s New Plastics Economy Global Commitment and is a member of flexible packaging initiative Ceflex and SPICE, the initiative to promote sustainable cosmetic packaging.