Lush debuts ‘carbon-positive’ packaging

The first 6

The new plastic-free pots, which will be used to house Lush’s range of solid shampoos and other ‘naked’ products, are made from biodegradable cork.

Lush claims that this material choice means that the packaging’s life-cycle involves the sequestering of more carbon than it emits, because trees used to make the cork are not cut down, with their bark being removed just once per decade.

Miles King, a nature writer who collaborates with Lush, elaborated further on this methodology in a conversation with the Telegraph. King said: Traditionally used to make [wine] corks, cork is actually a remarkable material – anti-bacterial, fire-retardant, water-resistant, flexible, strong, easy to work; and at the end of its life, it can be composted.

“Harvested from a living tree, it also has an exceptional ability to sequester carbon, helping to mitigate the effects of climate change chaos.”

Lush claims that each cork pot sequesters at least one kilogram of CO2e and has stated that it will purchase 500,000 of the pots over the next 12 months. The company has notably committed to paying a premium to ensure that the cost of sustainable sourcing, including ecological restoration and regeneration, is covered.

The first shipment of the pots was delivered to Lush this week, as part of the company’s partnership with green logistics provider New Dawn Traders. The 6,000 pots arrived at Lush’s UK HQ after a journey by sailboat – a model chosen to minimise the carbon impact of transport – and will be used as part of an upcoming, exclusive range of hair care products.

Plastic-free packaging

Lush is widely regarded as an ethical leader in the health and beauty sector, having sold only products classed as 100% vegetarian and cruelty-free since it was founded in 1995.

Around half of the products it sells are currently plastic-free, with liquid products such as shower gels and face masks housed in packaging made with 100% post-consumer recycled (PCR) plastics – some of which are made using recycled coffee cups.

For those products that are housed in PCR plastic, Lush runs an in-store take-back scheme at all of its UK locations, whereby shoppers can earn loyalty points for returning branded packaging for recycling.

But Lush’s plastic-free offering is where the majority of its growth lies. The retailer opened its first plastic-free shop in the UK in January, following the success of its ‘naked’ stores in Germany and Italy. The shop, on Market Street in Manchester, stocks products such as traditional solid soap bars, bar versions of Lush’s most popular shampoos, conditioners, shower gels and body lotions and loose bath bombs.

Sarah George

Action inspires action. Stay ahead of the curve with sustainability and energy newsletters from edie