What if today’s waste could become tomorrow’s marketing material?
It’s a question premium brands from all industries are asking themselves as we move into 2021. In our series on sustainable papers, we have already seen how Louis Vuitton has utilised offcuts of leather from its own supply chain to create bespoke, limited-run packaging.
We know that creating circular economies like these can be hugely valuable for brands, both commercially and creatively.
Circular systems reduce brands’ reliance on virgin materials, which can be expensive to produce and process. By some estimates, brands in the FMCG sector stand to save $700 billion by repurposing waste into materials that can then be given a second life as marketing collateral such as packaging.
Then, of course, there’s the consumer to consider. We know that transparency is more important than ever for premium brands in all industries – not only when it comes to the product itself, but also in terms of the experience that accompanies it.
It’s no use talking up the steadfast environmental commitments of your brand and your products if the box they’re packaged in is destined for landfill – your audience will notice, and your hard work will be undone.
Done well, however, the repurposing of waste from supply chains provides an opportunity for brands to tell a unique and compelling story – one that demonstrates transparency and responsibility, and which breaks the traditional, linear cycle of production and consumption.
That’s exactly what L’Oréal Italia set out to do in 2019, when they partnered with Italian paper manufacturer ICMA to produce a bespoke material from industrial packaging waste.
SECOND LIFE by ICMA x L’Oréal Italia
According to the Ellen MacArthur Foundation’s report on “Financing the Circular Economy”, L’Oréal has committed €50 million to fund circular projects, including new business models to tackle plastic pollution and find better material flows.
One of the results of this effort is a collaboration between L’Oréal Italia and ICMA Sartorial Paper – an Italian manufacturer specialising in the production of creative papers and cardboard – which resulted in the birth of Second Life.
Second Life serves as a pioneering example of how, in an effort to achieve more circular material flows, a brand identified a viable waste source and sought out a relevant partner to reduce its consumption of virgin resources.
This process required a daring supply chain rearrangement, which included ensuring that all industrial cardboard waste from L’Oréal Italia’s warehouses was collected and delivered to ICMA, who, in turn, set about transforming it into a premium surface. The result was a paper that not only gave new life to the fibres, but also transformed the look and feel of the L’Oréal brand.
The pilot project in 2019 was carried out using an estimated eight tonnes of L’Oréal Italia waste, and resulted in a similar quantity of regenerated paper.
Because L’Oréal Italia takes full ownership of the material, every fibre is fully traceable, from the identification of the waste to the finished product. In addition, any scraps from the production process are returned directly to the paper mill to be re-introduced into the production process of new paper.
1. Source of fibre: L’Oréal Italia’s industrial cellulosic waste created during the process of manufacturing or delivering goods prior to their delivery to a consumer.
2. Making process: Production process has been split into phases that consist of: (1) the preliminary phase that performs the qualitative and quantitative analysis of the pulp, which aims to detect the level of contamination and presence of plastic materials, (2) the definition of the creative project so that the parameters of the new paper can be set, (3) collection of waste paper through a specifically set up collection system and lastly (4) production of a new paper that meets technical requirements suitable for packaging (5) transforming paper through specific finishing processes and using water-based inks to meet the desired aesthetic, followed by (6) the creation of the packaging.
3. Energy: Significant shortening of the production cycle resulting in lower energy consumption. The reason for this is that there is no need for the intermediate step of creating virgin or recycled cellulose pulp as that is all already provided in the waste that is used as raw material for the production of new paper. What is more, Icma produces most of its required electricity using photovoltaic panels installed on the roofs of the facility.
4. Water: Lower water usage due to shortened production process.
5. Carbon emissions: Lower emissions due to shortened distance of fibre transportation as well as shortened production process.
6. Recyclability: At the end of life this material can be recycled in conventional stream with any scrap material from the production being directly sued for production of L’Oréal Italia’s new paper.
7. Functionality: Positioned to make better use of brand’s material and waste flows. It aims to replace 100% virgin cellulose papers and through utilising available resources better.
8. Finishing: Hi Tech Icma finish (glossy black paper with black carbon fiber surface finish effect) with UV offset printing for prototypes. In production a variety of printing techniques have been used including standard offset and digital on the original brown base paper.
9. Weights: Paper and board with various weights depending on the brand of the L’Oréal group
10. Applications: Cosmetics packaging from different brands of the L’Oréal group as well as the caskets, leaflets and displays.
11. Sustainable story: Greener and more sustainable operations by transforming L’Oréal Italia’s cellulosic waste, into elegant recycled creative papers used by the company itself, in its packaging projects. What is more, this approach shortens the production chain as brands waste is directly used as a raw material for the production of new paper. This has further positive implication on shortening of the transport distances as the entire process from waste, through paper production to the production of the boxes etc., all happens in Italy. What is more, Icma is one of the first mills to be certified as a B Corp®.
If you like what you’ve seen in our list on “The most sustainable papers for 2021”, and require further information on any of the papers featured in our series, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org. We’ll be more than happy to help you tell your brand’s sustainable story.
(Image Credit: Courtesy of ICMA & L’Oreal Italia)