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While sustainability is a hot topic every day, Earth Day is a chance to call attention to it even more. Sustainability is an issue many consumers, brands and retailers are focused on, and all parties want to leave a positive impact for generations to come.

As consumer awareness of sustainability and the desire to make a difference continues to grow, brands will need to evolve their marketing strategies and even their products to keep up with this rising consumer sentiment.

Below are five sustainability recommendations brands should keep in mind this Earth Day.

1. Turn to both new and old technology for sustainable ingredients

In the US, new innovations related to food production are moving agriculture from the fields to the labs. Foods and ingredients derived from new technology, including vertical farming, precision fermentation and cellular agriculture, will revolutionize the food industry.

The idea of “lab-riculture” has the potential to offer consumers a sense of security. Climate change and geopolitical conflicts are putting pressure on traditional, global food systems and creating uncertainty related to traditional agriculture.

Dehydrated and concentrated foods are an ancient method of food preservation. While waterless formulations can offer environmental benefits (e.g. reducing carbon footprint and reducing food waste), they can also benefit consumers who are looking for space-saving and economical options. For example, Waterdrop offers dehydrated flavored cubes that you can put in your water to enhance the flavor of water.

Source: Waterdrop website

2. Make your sustainability messaging clear

According to Mintel’s Canadian Lifestyles report almost a quarter of consumers believe that household care is the category where it is most important to shop sustainably. The actions of brands in that category highlight how companies are responding to this attitude.

In January 2022, the first thing a visitor to Unilever’s website sees are the words “Climate action can’t wait. We must take bold action now. Together”. Similarly, visitors to Proctor & Gamble’s site are welcomed by the words “Explore all the ways we improve every day” with a link to its 2021 Citizenship Report. These companies have clearly prioritized sustainability by making it front and center for consumers.

Source: Unliver Canada Instagram

3. Consider refillable packaging

More companies, especially across the beauty and personal care segment, are reviewing their packaging in an effort to make the switch to more sustainable alternatives. While many companies are still working on their own packaging recycling programs and offering consumers incentives in return for their support for the cause, other companies are making bigger changes and opting for eco-friendly refillable packaging.

Dove’s new Body Wash Reusable Bottle Concentrate has been developed to be ‘too beautiful to throw away’, with the refills supplied in a small compact container that just requires the addition of water. Not only is the refillable bottle designed to be beautiful, the refills themselves are small, making them appear less wasteful.

Source: Packaging of the World website

4. Avoid single use packaging when possible

The use of refills is synonymous with sustainability. Using less of a more robust packaging material through reusing or refilling the original container is logical and effective at reducing excessive packaging materials. Despite this, some refill formats are still only made to be refilled once.

Designers and companies alike are making headway in making this more sustainable through either reducing the amount of packaging required or by making a statement with innovative and more sustainable materials.

CaseMed Engineering has created biodegradable delivery systems, turning the packaging into a sustainable applicator. VersPad and SnapPad both feature an all-in-one liquid reservoir and applicator, with a finger-use design with easy pull-tab activation with sizes ranging from one to three-finger application.

Source: CaseMed Engineering website 

While the cultural shift already has an influence on how beauty brands approach single-use packaging, when it comes to monodoses, product samples or refill pouches/bottles, packaging designers must do much better to respond to the new environmental requirements.

5. Make a shift to eco-friendly packaging

Eco-ethical credentials can elevate products’ value for money by making consumers feel guilt-free and virtuous about their beauty purchases. There has currently been great focus on making packaging eco-friendly, but soon companies will need to take a more holistic approach.

Brands will need to look at initiatives throughout the supply chain, from procurement to disposal, and cast a wide net on issues such as resource protection and conservation.

Nivea , in partnership with Amazon India, launched its eco-friendly ready-to-ship ecommerce packaging that has no plastic and is 100% recyclable.

Source: Nivea website

To read more on Mintel’s sustainability market research, click here.