French beauty giant L’Oréal has teamed up with the energy company, Total, and carbon recycling company, LanzaTech, to unveil an innovation that will undoubtedly upgrade your shower. Enter the first plastic bottle created using carbon emissions.
In other words, L’Oréal, among other companies, recognizes that sustainability is a top priority as we work toward developing a more environmentally friendly future. This is especially crucial in the beauty industry, which is notorious for contributing to the ongoing plastic waste problem. Just take a moment to think about all of the complex beauty products you own and how complicated it is to recycle them correctly.
“L’Oréal is constantly improving the footprint of its packaging,” says Jacques Playe, the company’s packaging and development director. “With this innovation converting emissions into polyethylene, we aim to develop new sustainable packaging solutions.”
Playe continues, “We have the ambition to use this sustainable material in our bottles of shampoo and conditioner by 2024, and we hope other companies will join us in using this breakthrough innovation.”
The conversion process is broken down into three not-so-easy steps. First, LanzaTech converts industrial carbon emissions into ethanol through a biological process. Then — not to be overly complicated, but — Total converts the ethanol into ethylene through a dehydration process and ultimately polymerizes it into polyethylene (the most common type of plastic we use today).
Finally, L’Oréal produces its product packaging. The company notes that it looks and feels just like polyethylene that’s made from fossil fuels. This process aligns with the beauty company’s goal of making sure all of the plastic used in its product packaging is recycled or bio-based by 2030.
This news comes at the heels of Procter & Gamble’s (P&G) announcement that the company is launching refillable shampoo and conditioner bottles “by the end of 2021.” This initiative will include its hair care brands Head & Shoulders, Pantene, Herbal Essences, and Aussie. A fun bonus? The aluminum bottles are super cute, so you can elevate your shower while doing some environmental good.
“This new packaging innovation will contribute to making the reuse of packaging irresistible while enabling a reduction of virgin plastic as per P&G’s Ambition 2030 commitment,” says P&G sustainability officer Virginie Helias. “It’s no longer about if or what we can do, but how quickly we can do it — the window is now for embracing new sustainable lifestyles.”
Likewise, the fashion industry is making progress in innovations from renewable resources. Just last week, celebrity-backed footwear brand Allbirds unveiled a new antimicrobial material that the company calls “XO.” It’s derived from the discarded shells of marine life. Since it’s antimicrobal, you don’t have to wash these items as much as you would a “normal” piece of apparel — so you can cut back on your water use.
Another renewable material that has everyone talking is Mylo mushroom leather, a material created by the bioengineering company Bolt Threads. Stella McCartney, Lululemon, Adidas, and Kering have invested in the renewable leather alternative. Shoppers will be able to purchase items from these labels that incorporate the material as early as 2021.
Scientific innovation plays an imperative role in a brand’s sustainability efforts. Will every beauty and fashion brand be able to keep up?