Packaging in 2022 – we need to talk about plastic

Packaging in 2022 – we need to talk about plastic

FIRST HALF If there was one issue and one issue only that dominated packaging stories this year, it was sustainability. Packaging suppliers are working on reducing their impact on the environment – Geka, for example, released its first sustainability report this year – and at the same time, all the major manufacturers have made pledges to reduce their reliance on single use plastic. The race is on to find a material that will be kind to the planet, wallet and allow us to continue our quest for convenience. In short, we want our packaging cake and we want to eat it too. 

Indeed, LVMH Beauty announced a strategic partnership with Origin Materials to develop a low carbon footprint packaging for the perfume and cosmetics industry centred around carbon negative PET and bioplastic technologies.

Meanwhile, Shiseido debuted an eco-friendly Clear Bag made of PVA, starch, glycerin and water, for its e-commerce arm and pledged to replace bubble wrap with recyclable stuffing paper and honeycomb wrap.

And Loop Industries and L’Occitane piloted a bottle made from 100 percent PET resin, aimed at helping the French beauty brand to meet a key sustainability target. As part of the partnership, Loop’s logo will be featured prominently on the packaging to boot.

SECOND HALF The other big story of the packaging year was consolidation. Indeed, packaging was one of the few areas across the cosmetics industry where M&A activity was brisk. We saw Peninsula pick up ISEM Bramucci for €90 million, Carlyle mull the purchase of HCP for US$1 billion, TricorBraun snap up Neville and More, Mondi spin off its personal care components business, Ball sell its Russian arm to Arnest for US$350 million and Berlin Packaging buy Gerfran.

And staying with the finance side of the packaging industry, worryingly for packaging suppliers, ‘no packaging’ solutions are attracting a lot of investment. We’ve seen deodorant brand Wild Cosmetics raise £5 million in funding to build on its mission to remove single-use plastics from our bathroom routines and zero waste brand Blueland announce a US$20 million investment to help it expand its tablet-based refill system.

WHAT’S NEXT? Indeed, refills are on the rise; Natura &Co’s The Body Shop announced a five-year plan to roll out reflll stations in stores globally and Shiseido is set to launch more than 150 refillable products onto the Chinese market by 2023, while Coty unveiled the first cradle-to-cradle refillable perfume.

However, the packaging industry need not quake in its boots just yet because, despite all this, our shelves are still groaning with plastic. Refills are still very much niche and packaging is still a ‘problem’ – will 2023 find a solution to the single-use blight?