How does the packaging and promotional products industry combine sustainable innovation and luxury codes to breathe new life into an ecosystem that is by nature far from sustainable?
In 2019, the global turnover of the luxury market reached a record high of €1,300 billion. The environmental and societal impact that accompanies these dizzying figures is obviously enormous, pushing the players in the luxury industry towards a rethinking of a model that was previously unmovable. If the idea of making the luxury industry a model of sustainable development seems at first glance utopian, if not impossible, innovative initiatives by the big names in the sector are multiplying, giving rise to a sustainable and ethical shift of unprecedented scope in the sector.
The luxury houses, initiators of the sustainable revolution
Although the luxury sector has been aware for some thirty years of the need to be among the good students of sustainable development in order to continue to exist, ambitious policies in this area really began to emerge at the turn of the 2010s. In 2015, the COP21 and the media coverage of the IPCC report sounded the alarm and launched the race for sustainable innovation among players in the luxury sector.
This race has intensified with the growing expectations of consumers, who want to buy more responsible brands, making luxury houses, the initiators of a sustainable revolution.
Marie Sermadiras, CEO of Cosfibel Group, sums up this dynamic as follows: “The luxury houses, through their outstanding reputation and influence, can initiate an international movement of awareness which, in the long run, can be repeated in other sectors”.
The pack & gift at the heart of this ecological revolution
Marie Sermadiras: “The packaging sector is at the forefront of the industries that have to keep up with these new practices, with a double obligation for its players: to meet the most demanding sustainable constraints while maintaining their raison d’être: creating memorable consumer experiences for luxury brands.
At Cosfibel Group, this adaptation work was launched in 2012, with the creation of the CARES program (Cosfibel Action for Responsible and Ethical Sustainability). Our design, purchasing, innovation, logistics (…) teams are all mobilized to make Cosfibel a leader in the ecological transition of our industry. Among the many initiatives implemented, there are 4 major guidelines of this strategy”.
Working on materials, the starting point for sustainable packaging in the luxury industry
The quality of luxury goods, like their packaging, often depends on the use of rare, expensive raw materials with a high ecological impact. Material research is therefore the very first brick in the building of sustainable luxury.
A telling symbol of this trend, the multi-material box, which is often energy-consuming, not very durable and difficult to recycle, is now less and less popular with the major brands.
Charlotte Lautier-Gaud, Innovation Director, summarizes: “In packaging, as for luxury items, the codes tend to be reversed: lightness and sobriety guide the creation and shake up traditional codes. Boxes are a very telling example: the demand for single-material creations has never been so strong and is growing every year.
Recycling, in the heart of good practices
With the preservation of ecosystems and the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions in mind, recycling is now a major challenge to considerably limit the amount of natural resources taken.
Our design team is at the heart of this research process and is doubling its efforts to create products that are increasingly recyclable and/or reusable. The patented single-material closing system of the “Helsinki” box from a Cosfibel collection is a perfect illustration:
Entirely made of cardboard and paper, up to the patented closing system, this box from our design studio offers a resistance comparable to rigid materials, with a much lower weight, a minimal environmental impact, while being 100% recyclable without prior separation of materials.
The consulting dimension is growing
If awareness has been driven by the major luxury groups, suppliers can also be driving forces of a positive dynamic.
Cosfibel has had a CSR department since its creation in 2001 and has accelerated and centralized all its sustainable initiatives under the CARES (Cosfibel Actions for Responsible and Ethical Sustainability) label since 2012.
This CSR department has notably developed tools that enable our customers to make informed decisions when choosing materials for their projects. Among these tools, the “carbon score ” of an article allows, with a grade from A to D, to visualize at a glance how a material is positioned in comparison to another on a given project. We also conduct full life cycle assessments, a tool that allows for the global and multi-criteria evaluation of environmental impacts, and help our customers implement the best logistical solutions to reduce their emissions.
Nearby imports and local production
The fourth pillar of this sustainable strategy is the relocation of production.
click here to see the original article, page 70 of the Spanish magazine INDUSTRIA COSMÉTICA