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Lush – Marching from the front in the battle for responsible packaging

A conscious effort to recycle is something that we have embraced, and now accept as a normal part of a consumer lifestyle. Businesses that take advantage of Corporate Social Responsibility, known as CSR, have found that considering the environmental impact and recycling potential of their products in their business plan can have remarkable effects. One such company is Lush Retail Limited.
Entering their 20th year of business, the cosmetics giant can boast over 800 stores in 51 countries. It’s easy to forget that Lush started out as just one boutique in Poole, Dorset; but when you acknowledge their sustainable business practices, you can see how they have expanded so successfully.

Good for the planet

Lush products are 100% vegetarian, 83% vegan and 60% preservative free. Some products are packaged in a ‘black pot’, something we have mentioned before. Black plastic is notorious in the plastic recycling industry for its ‘hard to recycle’ nature, but this is no problem for Lush. As well as ensuring that plastic recycling can take place with their packaging, through a combined effort with their suppliers, they also moved the plastic pot supply from China to Poole. The pots are now made 1 mile away from their contents, reducing carbon footprint and contributing to the local economy.
Whilst black pots for food are often made from CPET (crystalline polyethylene terephthalate), Lush’s black pots are made from the far more recyclable Polypropylene. It is the intention of Lush to make their plastic recycling activities closed loop, in turn creating zero waste.

Black pots

What makes Lush’s plastic recycling efforts all the more impressive is that they are asking customers to return their black pots, and are recycling these black pots into new black pots! Lush ‘don’t believe in waste’ and so plastic recycling takes place on another level, collecting the surplus plastic from moulds and re-shaping it into pre-forms for plastic bottles! Packaging labels have been changed from paper to plastic, with the idea that this would further enhance the possibility of plastic recycling internally.
Products sold in a black pot will have a sticker on the side saying ‘bring back 5 clean black pots, and get a Fresh Face Mask Free’. In 2013, global sales of Lush shampoo prevented nine million plastic bottles from entering landfill.

Environmental ideas

Lush are always trying to find new ways of reducing their carbon footprint and making their products more environmentally friendly for the customer. Here are a few:
-Soap is sold in slices, unpackaged, to reduce waste. The option to buy the soap packaged is available, and is wrapped in a biodegradable plastic that can go into the compost bin.
-Solid shampoo has allowed Lush to reduce the amount of plastic leaving the store. Instead, the shampoo is sold in bricks, either in recycled paper or a recycled aluminium tin (for multiple re-use).
-Popcorn, yes, you read it right. Instead of bubble wrap or packaging peanuts (loose polystyrene), Lush fill the gaps in their recycled cardboard boxes with popcorn. Upon arrival you can compost the popcorn or throw it out for the birds, either way, it’s less plastic.

Do you think more businesses should aim to be as responsible as Lush?

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