Lush Cosmetics Aiming to Reduce Packaging Waste Further in Canada with ‘Naked’ Options [Interview]

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After receiving a sustainability award in November 2022, Lush, an international cosmetics brand known for its fresh handmade products, is continually looking to evolve and find new ways of going above and beyond to remain a trustworthy brand that consumers can count on from product quality to sustainability.

“Keeping up with the rapidly evolving field of sustainability is especially important to Lush because we identify as a campaigning company that is driven by our mission to leave the world lusher than we found it. Our passionate staff and customers share Lush’s values, hold us accountable, and encourage us to do more,” says Katrina Shum and Sheila Ongie, the Lush Regeneration and Sustainability Team at Lush. “To overcome the barrage of messaging in the world today, we need to work even harder to be heard. We have invested time, focus, and energy in doing the work and building an authentic brand that is rooted in our values. Now, we see the opportunity to further connect our customers with our values by sharing our impacts in deeper and more meaningful ways. We believe our stories have the opportunity to inspire, and grow our overall impact within the cosmetics industry.”

“Leaving the World Lusher than we Found it”

“We have ambitious plans for doing our part to solve the climate crisis, by recognizing the connections to biodiversity, rewilding, and healthy communities. Specifically, our work is centered around five areas: protecting forests and wildlife, achieving 100 percent renewable power, making materials regenerative and circular, radically reducing transport emissions, and standing up for climate justice and adaptation.”

Katrina Shum

Lush is known as a company that uses sustainable packaging as most of its products don’t come with packaging. For instance, Lush has naked products which eliminates waste and is the first brand to create packageless products as the bar concept was developed in 1987. Customers can find shampoo bars, conditioner bars, and soap bars. When Lush needs to use packaging, it uses 100 percent post-consumer plastic and all Lush’s pots, lids, and bottles can be recycled using its local recycling program.

“We keep our initiatives fresh through constant evolution. We find that sustainability and regeneration are rapidly changing fields, and customers’ expectations similarly evolve. One of the best examples of Lush’s constant reinvention is in our approach to packaging – or lack thereof. The naked approach supports Lush’s priority for ethically purchased, quality, regenerative ingredients rather than spending money on packaging materials. Solid unpackaged products such as shampoo bars, massage bars make up over 60 percent of Lush’s sales today. For products where packaging is still required, Lush defied the norm in 2009 by adapting 100 percent recycled content, then shook things up further in 2015 by moving our packaging supply chain from Asia to North America to launch a circular recycling program.”

Sheila Ongie

The circular recycling program at Lush encourages customers to clean and bring in their empty Lush pots and place it towards a purchase. If a customer brings in five, they can get a free face mask and in 2022, Lush refreshed the program so customers can get a dollar off their purchase for every pot they brought in.

As Lush partners with growers, manages its own supply chain, creates its own products, and everything in between – Lush is able to be involved in every step allowing more room for improvement for sustainability and can ensure customers are getting 100 percent of what they are told about Lush’s sustainability initiatives.

Future Sustainability Goals

Lush on Queen Street West (Image: Dustin Fuhs)

“We are driven to leave the world lusher in all areas that our business touches, and we are working faster and harder than ever to stay within our planetary boundaries. This includes taking direct action where we have operational oversight – such as in our manufacturing facilities, distribution centers and shops, and finding the leverage points for influencing our upstream and downstream impact.”

Looking upstream, Lush is currently looking at ways to strengthen its partnerships to include carbon reduction and sequestration opportunities. Shum and Ongie said 80 percent of Lush’s carbon footprint is within its supply chain of growing and processing ingredients and only have partnerships where the company shares the same set of values where sustainability comes first.

Lush will also be looking at evolving product formulas to continue to use self-preserving ingredients that can be used without packaging. Currently, Lush’s shampoo bars avoid three plastic bottles each and around 2.8 million plastic bottles per year.

“Thanks to our innovators, naked options exist in nearly every Lush product category today. This innovation is being noticed as in November 2022, Lush received a sustainability award for our new naked mascara. As happy as we were for the recognition, it was the exposure and industry acceptance of this new low-impact product that fills us with excitement. Since naked is a Lush core value, we can expect to see further innovation in this space.”

As Lush continues to evolve with its naked products to eliminate waste and to further its sustainability goals of reducing its carbon footprint, Lush is a company that is known to keep moving forward, to be involved in activism such as animal rights, and to include its customers with every change. The sustainability award, Shum and Ongie said, has pushed Lush to want to try new things as it has challenged the brand to grow more.

“Lush customers know that our brand stands for doing what is right over what is easy. We are not afraid to challenge the status quo and stand up for what we believe in. We are fortunate to have well informed staff and customers who are not afraid to ask us the hard questions, which has continuously challenged us. We believe in the value of innovation and creativity. To be on the leading edge requires us to be nimble, to try new things and to be okay with making mistakes and trying again in order to show our customers, the industry, and others what is possible.”

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Shelby Hautala
Shelby Hautala
Shelby Hautala, based in Toronto, is a new Journalist to Retail Insider. She has experience writing for local newspapers and also internationally for Helsinki Times while she lived in Finland. Shelby holds a Bachelor of Journalism Honours degree from the University of King’s College and a Social Work degree from Dalhousie University in Halifax.

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