In a press conference last week, UK beauty brand Lush lifted the lid on how it is extending its sustainability measures, which include take back packaging initiatives, to create regenerative systems. The goal? To “give back more than they take” from the earth.
In a virtual press conference “Is Sustainable Beauty Enough? Moving Towards Regeneration”, Lush Global Buying Coordinator Gabbi Loedolff detailed how the beauty brand is working with suppliers to ensure its products have a positive impact, whether economic, social or financial.
While for Lush, sustainability can be considered as “doing no harm, regeneration is about creating surplus, or having a positive impact on every ecosystem we interact with,” explained Loedolff. “Our vision is that as a business we can have a regenerative impact through every single good we buy, whether it be a natural ingredient or packaging component.”
As for packaging, while the brand is looking at innovative new materials, using PCR is a “great baseline”; Lush operates an in-house closed loop recycling scheme for its iconic black PP pots (made from purchased recycled plastic and recycled black pot material), with a bring-back system in place since 2008. Earlier this year the brand launched a bring-back initiative to take back all its packaging that cannot be reused or recycled locally.
For its secondary packaging, boxes are made from PCR materials and ribbons from recycled PET. Its Cork Pot, sourced in Portugal, is reusable, biodegradable and carbon-positive, according to the brand. Lush also continues to develop “naked” – or solid formula –products, such as shampoo bars, which require no packaging.
On the ingredient side, Loedolff cited the example of cocoa butter sourcing. Out of the 4.8million tons of cocoa beans produced in 2020 worldwide, only around 300,000 tons of these were organic or fair-trade certified, she said. “As demand for cocoa butter increases, so too does the opportunity to maximize the beneficial impact we could have.” The brand has partnered with a cocoa producer in Sierra Leone, working on improving livelihood and increasing yield.
And what about the importance of localizing supply? “While this has benefits in terms of supporting local manufacturers, the repercussions of bringing business back from local communities or artisans would be huge,” Loedolff states. “As a brand, it’s important for us to think about how to work smarter and build in flexibility - for example, creating more of a geographical diversification.”