Sometimes it takes an indie effort to make an industrywide change. LOLI (Living Organic, Loving Ingredients) Beauty and The Better Packaging Co. have teamed up with Amazon’s Carbon Beauty platform for a zero-waste solution to their packaging fulfillment.
“We’re here to clean up the dirty business of beauty,” states LOLI Beauty founder Tina Hedges. Her company is the world’s first zero-waste, organic beauty brand that creates waterless and synthesized ingredient-free formulations utilizing up-cycled food supply. Each product is packaged in recycled, recyclable, and refillable food-grade glass containers, and even the labels and bags are home-compostable. After increasing pressure to widen their distribution channel via Amazon, the brand found itself conflicted to find a sustainable shipping solution. Enter Hedges’ collaborator The Better Packaging Co.
Since its launch 2.5 years ago, the company has replaced 25 million plastic bags with biodegradable alternatives. The enterprise offers compostable forms for the entire packaging chain, from courier satchels to zip lock bags. “Our products are designed to be direct replacements to traditional plastic so it’s a super-easy switch with little-to-no change in processes required,” Kate Bezar, founder, The Better Packaging Co., explains. Their comPOSTubble pockets—a three-layer film made from PLA (derived from corn), cornstarch, and compostable resin—will be replacing all plastic bubble wrap for LOLI Beauty orders placed on Carbon Beauty and fulfilled through Amazon.
It’s a move that set back the launch of the partnership by almost a year, but Hedges’ persistence has resulted in a landmark moment for beauty e-commerce’s sustainability future. “It is mind-boggling to me that it takes an indie beauty brand partnering with an indie, eco-sustainable packaging company to figure out a solution that the big, multi-billion dollar conglomerates can’t figure out,” Hedges proclaims. “I think it’s indicative of a systemic error in the ways that these companies look at sustainability, which is if it’s not a quick and easy solution, they bucket it for the future. But we don’t have a future if we don’t figure out these solutions today.”
Dan Sudman, Carbon Beauty’s CEO and co-founder, sees the initiative as a milestone in helping to reduce Amazon’s carbon footprint without compromising on performance. “As a company, we have been devoted to sustainability and streamlined efficiency, which often go hand in hand, since Day 1,” he states. “With the new sustainable packaging, we do not need to sacrifice product protection or presentation in order to achieve sustainability. It is truly a game-changer and something we plan on rolling out for our other Amazon partners over the next year.”
Amazon’s shipping numbers are significant enough that this simple switch throughout their entire supply chain could have a monumental impact on waste reduction, not to mention the potential ripple effect on other corporations. In 2019, the conglomerate had $221.95bn worth of transactions, 10% of those being health & beauty related. Accelerated by the pandemic, the entire e-commerce business is booming with a 30% growth rate in the last year alone. “87 billion parcels were sent worldwide in 2018. Almost all of those parcels will be wrapped in single use plastic,” comments Bezar.
As we approach the holidays, a sustainable alternative is more pertinent than ever. Seven million pounds of waste will be generated between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day alone, with Americans generating 25% more waste than at any other time of the year. “Why have we created this whole holiday where it’s all about taking something, wrapping it in wasteful paper, and then throwing it all away?” asks Hedges. “We use compostable bags with hemp twine at our company, but for the individual, think about where you can repurpose things that are already used.” The Better Packaging Co. also offers a mailing satchel that can be reutilized as gift wrap as an antidote.
From corporations to consumers, education is a vital component of helping the zero-waste movement expand beyond this collaboration and enter the mainstream. “Covid and this idea of how vulnerable we are to the way we are currently living is giving people a reason to really care,” Hedges proclaims, citing everything from nutrition and toxin-free products to our carbon footprint. While she admits the lack of knowledge and the increased cost of implementing sustainable technologies is a hurdle for companies adopting zero-waste practices, consumers who have been taught they can have it all at the lowest price point will also be required to compromise. “We need the consumer to meet us somewhere in the middle. We want to use our dollar to vote for change and recognize that that dollar is going to be more precious,” she adds. “That balance between moral conviction and voting with your wallet is really tough to find.”
Customers who are looking for the cheapest product are perhaps unaware of the hidden cost involved, namely the often unethical source of ingredients and the undoubtedly destructive impact of a brand’s entire supply chain on our planet. According to Sudman and Bezar, the demand for transparency and more sustainable options are growing on both sides of the industry. “As customers continue to learn more about sustainability and pseudo-sustainability, their standards will only continue to rise and zero waste is certainly one to strive for,” Sudman says. “The demand for waste-free solutions has been phenomenal,” Bezar adds. “It’s amazing to see so many businesses actively seeking to be more sustainable in their supply chain. The incredible demand we’ve seen first-hand gives us real hope for the future of our planet.”
She advises brands and consumers alike to work towards a carbon-neutral or climate-positive status, choosing sea freight over air mail and making use of food compost. Whether you are a brand or an individual, we all can play our part in moving sustainability practices forward.
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