Collect and recycle your own packagingCircular economy thinking at the heart of Lush packaging design
A brand that’s ploughing massive amounts of company resources into sustainable packaging principles, and producing spectacularly industry-changing results, is Lush. It is a big name in pioneering ethical manufacturing processes and has a global retail customer fan base that’s expanding as new stores open around the world selling ethically conceived, handmade personal care products and cosmetics.
A bring-back scheme returns used containers to Lush to be devolumized in-house (left hand) and the chips (or flakes) are converted to the source resin (right hand) for new pots and bottles
I believe success comes with the responsibility to deal with the impact of increased consumption and I’m impressed that Lush has made a pact with itself – and crucially with customers – to do just that. It opened a new factory in Poole this year with a recycling facility to produce a better quality of recyclate able to go directly into its closed loop manufacturing process. Recycled polypropylene and other plastics are moulded back into pots and bottles which Lush then uses for new products.
The push to become an independent recycler came from two directions explains the senior buyer at Lush, Gabbi Loedolff, “Our drive to be wholly responsible for mitigating our environmental impact and an inability to find external partners that could meet our needs.” The challenge she told me was to find equipment that was scalable in line with the processing capacity needs of a few 100 tonnes a year, comparably small and very specific. “We also needed to bring the teams that would be working on the day to day running of it into the vision we have, to ensure people felt a part of it and saw the value it added beyond pure functionality,” added Loedolff.
Refreshingly, profit motives are completely absent from business decision-making – almost incomprehensible for most other business enterprises. “Our impact on the environment is a core belief and something we do just because it is the right thing to do and nothing more. We are doing this as an additional activity as opposed to our sole activity; we are also using the finished materials ourselves, so we are less dependent on external factors. “The ideal is to keep reusing any resource and getting as much value as possible from every ‘waste’ material. Circular economies give a degree of traceability on the origin of materials that are often otherwise completely untraceable.”