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With Earth Day upon us, it’s a time for everyone to consider how their actions have an impact on our planet.
It's clear the consumer goods industry is taking this to heart. Against the backdrop of sustainability goals to mitigate climate change and rising demand from shoppers for eco-conscious strategies, a series of new initiatives unveiled over the last month show that brands and retailers are making process changes and adding new materials as they produce and deliver products.
Below is a look at the Earth Day launches that stood out this spring. For those wondering where to start, take note that, often, these new initiatives happen through partnerships.
LVMH’s sustainable PET partnership
Inside a Dior store. (Photo via Flickr user Alessandra Grochko, used under a Creative Commons license)
A new partnership between one of luxury’s biggest names and a materials company is aiming to produce sustainable packaging for perfumes and cosmetics.
LVMH Beauty, a division of LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton, announced a multi-year agreement on April 19 to purchase sustainable PET from Sacramento, California-based Origin Materials. PET is a plastic, and is typically made from petroleum. The PET from Origin Materials is made from sustainable wood residues, which capture carbon. It is also recyclable.
LVMH plans to use the PET to develop packaging materials for brands including Givenchy, Christian Dior and Guerlain, among others. It’s one way LVMH is working to meet a commitment to make packaging that contains no plastic derived from virgin fossil resources.
“Origin’s bioplastic technologies are playing a crucial role in helping LVMH achieve our sustainability targets without any compromise on quality. LVMH Beauty is happy to collaborate with Origin, supporting innovative technologies,” said Claude Martinez, Executive President & Managing Director, in a statement.
L.O.L. Surprise shows Earth Love
Earth Love from L.O.L. Surprise (via Earth Love)
Recognizable packaging was key to toy company MGA Entertainment as it grew L.O.L. Surprise dolls. Unboxing a doll from a spherical container proved to be a delightful part of the experience.
Now, the company is placing the packaging at the center of its sustainability efforts.
This month, it announced that it will begin to use bamboo, wood, sugar cane and other natural materials in the spheres, instead of plastic. The goal is to transition 65% of the plastic balls to new packaging by fall 2022. That means 45 million dolls will be produced using the sustainable materials this year.
Inside the first sustainable spheres will be two new characters that are debuting to mark the occasion. The Earth Love collection, available at Walmart, will feature LEarthy B.B. and Grow Grrrl, both of whom come complete with gardening accessories.
The company is also continuing a partnership with TerraCycle for recycling.
"MGA is committed to sustainability and eco-friendly initiatives, and we are proud to take this monumental step with our new L.O.L. Surprise! Earth Love toys, with many more to come," said MGA Entertainment Founder and CEO Isaac Larian, in a statement.
Low-carbon running shoes from Adidas and Allbirds
(Image via Adidas)
One big question about sustainable materials is whether they can scale as a component of mass-produced goods.
The Adizero x Allbirds 2.94 kg CO2e has sustainability cred, as the only running shoe to go below 3.0 kg CO2e. The measure CO2e describes the greenhouse gas-equivalent of material in a unit of product. To achieve this measure, the shoes are made using sugarcane content, recycled rubber, recycled polyester and natural lyocell. Plus, the brands employed a design method that reduces scrap on certain parts of the shoe.
This month, the companies made more of the shoes available in four color schemes (produced using no dye).
To get to scale, the brands made the decision to work together.
“Climate change presents a formidable challenge, but the success of this project is an example of how two teams can work together to create a shoe fit for performance and the planet,” said Hana Kajimura, head of sustainability at Allbirds, in a statement. “Our overarching ambition with this shoe is to inspire others to open up their development processes and cooperate with others to create the most carbon efficient designs possible.”
Casio’s environmentally-friendly watch
A Casio watch is a long-term favorite for shoppers who want to keep thing simple, or do some quick calculations. With a new timepiece, the brand is factoring in sustainable materials.
The PRW-61is the latest release in the PRO TREK series, and it's made from biomass plastics. It’s the first item from Casio to use these materials, TWICE reported.
The watch has features for solar charging, radio reception and sensors including a thermometer and compass. So it’s fitting that it is close to the Earth in form, as well as function.
Mattel’s carbon-netural toys
Matchbox is going green (Image courtesy of Mattel)
You can now own a matchbox Tesla roadster.
That’s cool enough. Now add in that it’s made from 99% recycled materials, and is carbon neutral.
The miniature Tesla is among a number of items Mattel is rolling out as part of an environmentally-friendly line this year.
Elsewhere in its catalogue, a new line of Mega Bloks is the first-ever to be certified carbon neutral, the brand says.
The toys in the Green Town line are made from plant-based materials and bio-circular plastics. MEGA achieved the certification in part by purchasing carbon offsets from the Darkwood Forests Conservation project in Canada. Packaging for the toys is also 100% Forest Stewardship Council (FSC)-certified paper or paperboard.
“These new products from MEGA and Matchbox demonstrate our commitment to our 2030 goal to achieve 100% recycled, recyclable or bio-based plastic materials in all our products and packaging and to create a more sustainable future for the next generation,” said Pamela Gill-Alabaster, Head of Global Sustainability at Mattel, in a statement.
Nivea Men Climate Care Moisturizer
Nivea Men Climate Care Moisturizer (Image via Beiersdorf)
Beiersdorf set out to pioneer carbon dioxide recycling in the making of its skincare products. Now, its first product using the environmentally-minded approach is launching.
To produce the forthcoming Climate Care Moisturizer from Nivea Men, the company used carbon capture and utilization technology to produce ethanol, which is present in many cosmetics. Through this process, carbon dioxide is collected at locations like industrial chimneys, then diverted to a bioreactor, where it is then fermented and processed.
The brand used this approach to create a moisturizer that is 14% ethanol. The company adds that the formula is 100% free of microplastics, silicones, mineral oils, and PEG or PEG derivatives, and manufactured using electricity from 100% renewable sources.
The initial launch of the product is set for June in Germany, with a limited quantity available through ecommerce and drugstores.
Shiseido’s sustainable ecommerce packaging
(Image via Shiseido)
Sustainability efforts that focus on ecommerce packaging can have a big impact, given their scale.
Here’s one example of such a move this month: Ecommerce shoppers who buy from the Japan-headquartered beauty brand Shiseido can now choose from eco-friendly packaging options.
According to Global Cosmetics News, the offerings include a clear, “green” plastic bag made from Polyvinyl Alcohol, and honeycomb wrap and stuffing paper to replace bubble wrap.
Boots kicks plastic wet wipes
Boots wet wipes (Courtesy photo)
Sustainability doesn’t always mean releasing something new. Retailers can also make a statement with what they decide not to sell.
This month, the UK drugstore retailer Boots said it would stop selling plastic wet wipes by the end of the year, and replace them with plant-based alternatives.
This is a decision that covers a big portion of the market. The company said it sold over 800 million wet wipes online and in stores last year, representing 15% of wet wipe sales in the UK.
Kroger and Loop’s circular packaging partnership
A Kroger Marketplace (www.flickr.com)
The frequency of grocery shopping makes it a prime area to reduce single-use packaging. That’s why reusable bags have become a familiar part of the in-store experience.
Kroger is taking things a step further by introducing reusable packaging for its products. Through a partnership with Loop, the grocer introduced reusable packaging in products at Fred Meyer stores in Oregon earlier this year. Now, it's expanding the initiative.
There are a few different parts of the program: Loop recovers and sanitizes packaging for recirculation, while it looks to manufacturers who introduce products that reuse sustainable packaging.
Working through both its private label brands and recognizable CPG names, the program is one example of how grocery stores can play an influential role in promoting sustainability.
If the SKU fits...
Dick's Sporting Goods. (www.flickr.com)
When it comes to ecommerce orders, one way to reduce waste is by providing a better fit of product to package.
Packsize has created customized corrugated packaging that is fitted to the 2,000+ SKUs shipped by Dick’s.
The companies said in March that it resulted in a 26% reduction in corrugated materials used by Dick's.
"We recognize that our athletes want their products in a timely fashion – and they want us to create less waste with more efficient packaging,” George Giacobbe, senior vice president for supply chain at DICK'S Sporting Goods, said in a statement.
Trending in Operations
Campbell Soup Company CEO Mark Clouse offered thoughts on messaging amid inflationary shifts in consumer behavior.
After months of elevated inflation and interest rate hikes that have the potential to cool demand, consumers are showing more signs of shifting behavior.
It’s showing up in retail sales data, but there’s also evidence in the observations of the brands responsible for grocery store staples.
The latest example came this week from Campbell Soup Company. CEO Mark Clouse told analysts that the consumer continues to be “resilient” despite continued price increases on food, but found that “consumers are beginning to feel that pressure” as time goes on.
This shows up in the categories they are buying. Overall, Clouse said Campbell sees a shift toward shelf-stable items, and away from more expensive prepared foods.
There is also change in when they make purchases. People are buying more at the beginning of the month. That’s because they are stretching paychecks as long as possible.
These shifts change how the company is communicating with consumers.
Clouse said the changes in behavior are an opportunity to “focus on value within our messaging without necessarily having to chase pricing all the way down.”
“No question that it's important that we protect affordability and that we make that relevant in the categories that we're in," Clouse said. "But I also think there's a lot of ways to frame value in different ways, right?”
A meal cooked with condensed soup may be cheaper than picking up a frozen item or ordering out. Consumers just need a reminder. Even within Campbell’s own portfolio, the company can elevate brands that have more value now, even if they may not always get the limelight.
The open question is whether the shift in behavior will begin to show up in the results of the companies that have raised prices. Campbell’s overall net sales grew 5% for the quarter ended April 30, while gross profit margins held steady around 30%. But the category-level results were more uneven. U.S. soup sales declined 11%, though the company said that was owed to comparisons with the quarter when supply chains reopened a year ago and expressed confidence that the category is seeing a longer-term resurgence as more people cook at home following the pandemic. Snacks, which includes Goldfish and Pepperidge Farm, were up 12% And while net sales increased overall, the amount of products people are buying is declining. Volumes were down 7%.
These are trends happening across the grocery store. Campbell is continuing to compete. It is leading with iconic brands, and a host of different ways to consume them. It is following that up with innovation that makes the products stand out. Then, it is driving home messaging that shows consumers how to fit the products into their lives, and even their tightening spending plans.
Campbell Soup is more than 150 years old, and has seen plenty of difficult economic environments. It is also a different business today, and will continue to evolve. At the end of the day, continued execution is what’s required.
“If it's good food, people are going to buy it, especially if it's a great value,” Clouse said.