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How Lush Enlists Packaging Partners in its Sustainability Quest

How Lush Enlists Packaging Partners in its Sustainability Quest
From selling “naked” (unpackaged) products like soap cakes to buying responsibly sourced paper packaging, Lush lives its environmental values.

Health and beauty companies looking to establish or expand their sustainability commitment should keep these four main takeaways top of mind when looking for packaging supply chain partners.

The founders of Lush Fresh Handmade Cosmetics wanted to keep it simple. They began creating cruelty-free beauty products in the late 1970s based on their own personal principles. That guiding ethos happily remains the company’s lodestar, fostering brand loyalty among generations of customers now served by 900 stores in 49 countries circling the globe. 

For Lush, a commitment to sustainability and the environment is the crux of its brand promise. — It keeps that promise, day in and day out, by finding and nurturing complex supply chain partnerships with suppliers that live and operate by similar values.

“The overarching first step is that Lush will only partner with companies that share the same type of values we do, which are centered on making the world a better place,” says the company’s print and gift packaging buyer, Karen Moll. “We have put together the Lush Foundation, which is essentially our code of conduct. It sets the expectations we have, and also details our aspirational goals.”

Moll has been with the company since 2012 and is responsible for sourcing ethical packaging, working with local and global suppliers to procure 100% recycled substrates, fulfilling Lush’s brand promise.

“We only buy 100% recycled material because it reduces garbage to landfill, expends less energy, has less of a carbon footprint, and reduces greenhouse gasses,” Moll says.

Many Lush products are “naked,” meaning that Lush does not package solid products, such as soaps and bath bombs. But when paper materials are necessary, Lush uses ethical buying practices and a transparent commitment to sustainability.

Monadnock Paper Mills is one of the company’s packaging supplier partners. Monadnock is increasing its use of recycled and unique plant-based fibers to make its products. The company is Forest Stewardship Council-certified (FSC C018866; ensuring responsible use of forest resources) and all its papers are manufactured carbon neutral, with 100% renewable electricity.

There’s a lot of synergy between Lush and Monadnock. And while papermaking may be an ancient industry, we’re delighted that Lush has discovered Monadnock’s innovative approach to creating sustainable and environmentally responsible packaging.

According to Moll, health and beauty companies looking to establish or expand their sustainability commitment should keep these four main takeaways top of mind when looking for packaging supply chain partners:

1. Set clear goals.

It can be through aggressive goal-setting, forward-thinking Sustainability Reports, or a simple premise, but start with the basics. How do companies define sustainability and how are they going to be increasingly sustainable? What are the time horizons? This key decision will serve as the bulwark upon which companies can start to make difficult decisions. Lush has a clear vision and it drives how it operates, what it produces, and with whom it partners.

2. Go deep.

Supply chain partnerships will be critical to meeting sustainability goals. Companies will need to “eliminate the middleman” and get to know the owners of their potential supply-chain partners, understanding not just what they produce but how they produce it. For example, what is their Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) commitment as it relates to how it treats its employees? Lush meets on-site with its global supply base to ensure that its core values are aligned.

3. Commit to the costs.

Living up to a brand’s sustainability promise isn’t easy. The time commitment in foraging for and forging compelling supply chain relationships is substantial. Frequently, there are additional hard costs in sourcing natural ingredients and sustainable substrates. Measuring the return on investment (ROI) can be challenging. Lush sees it as an investment in its customers and its continued success, 900 retail outlets and counting.

In its stores, Lush offers shoppers the option of wrapping products bought as gifts in a reusable scarf instead of single-use wrapping paper.

4. Tell your story.

As companies move steadily ahead with the previous three points, they then need to ensure that they effectively communicate to end-use customers and potential supply-chain partners. What has been achieved, why does it matter, and how does the sustainability journey continue? Lush maintains a well-earned grip on its overall brand narrative and communicates frequently on its owned, earned, and paid channels.

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