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RETAILX UK GROWTH 2,000 2022 Packaging that delivers

|Revolution Beauty palettes are manufactured from wood pulp which is crushed down to have the feel of

Growth 2000 UK businesses are transforming their packaging for good, writes DeliveryX editor Katie Searles.

With more than 80% of UK consumers now making purchases online [1], ecommerce delivery has never been more important. It also means that first impressions of a retailer are no longer a shiny storefront but often a cardboard box.

This cardboard box not only has to ensure the product isn’t damaged in transit, but also has to represent the retailer – both in style and, increasingly, in sustainability substance. Conscious consumers making environmentally-friendly buying decisions are also looking for the packaging it arrives in to be green. A recent study from packaging specialist DS Smith found 41% of shoppers would like to receive packaging made from alternative renewable sources [2].

Recycled content
One such Growth 2000 UK retailer, Bloom & Wild has worked to ensure 100% of its packaging is recyclable or compostable. Even down to the stickers, paper flower food sachets and flower nets.

Nearly all the letter box florist’s packaging is made from 100% recycled materials, with Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certified recycled cardboard and ribbons that were once plastic bottles. This strategy has saved nearly 150,000kg of plastic and polyester going to landfill – equivalent to 7.2m toothbrushes, Bloom & Wild reported.

Revolution Beauty palettes are manufactured from wood pulp which is crushed down to have the feel of plastic – but is compostable

Fast growing UK-based cosmetic retailer Revolution Beauty has also been working to clean up its range. Its first major initiative was reducing plastic consumption by over 50 tonnes in its 2020 Gift Collection. That’s equal to roughly three million plastic water bottles. In early 2021, the online beauty store switched its Fixing Spray bottles – over one million of them – to 100% recycled plastic.

Furthermore, its Planet Revolution collection boasts the world’s first recyclable shadow palette. Shoppers can click-out the keepsake mirror and dispose of the palette and FSC card packaging in their recycling bin or home composter.

Saying goodbye to plastic
While reacting to clean consumer demands is one driving force for this sustainability switch, the introduction of the plastic tax is another reason retailers are ditching the plastic. The UK legislation, which became enforceable on April 1 2022, taxes businesses for any packaging containing less than 30% recycled plastic which they manufacture or import. As a result, retailers have been making changes to the amount of virgin plastic used in packaging since the tax was announced in 2018.

Vero Moda’s parent company Bestseller switched out virgin plastics in 2021. The certified 100% recycled alternatives are made from polyethylene (PE) certified by Global Recycling Standard and are also designed for subsequent high-quality recycling.

“We estimate that Bestseller suppliers use 175m polybags per year, and by the end of 2021 they exhausted their existing stockpile of old virgin plastic polybags and have replaced them with the new version made from 100% recycled plastic,” says Henrik Sand, Bestseller Sustainability’s project manager.

The fashion retailer argues that while plastic use – and its subsequent waste – remains a critical problem for society, polybags are still the best option compared to non-plastic alternatives or not using them at all. It says garments wrapped in polybags are protected during transport from production all the way to consumers, whereas not using them to protect products would result in more damaged products which have a greater environmental impact.

Packaging that protects
As Vero Moda’s parent company suggests, sustainability may be high in retailers’ strategies, but if their products arrive broken this risks damaging their reputations. Growth 2000 UK retailer The Whisky Exchange uses special polystyrene packing chips and plastic bubble wrap which are 100% recyclable to strike a balance between protection and sustainability.

Such moves appear to be working – a Macfarlane Packaging consumer survey of 1,000 UK shoppers in the summer of 2022 found that the number of products that arrived damaged had fallen to 7% in 2022 [3].

Protection comes in different forms. For some Growth 2000 UK retailers, it is about protecting its clients’ modesty through plain packaging. British sexual lifestyle retailer Lovehoney guarentees orders will arrive in “completely plain and boring packaging”.

All Lovehoney “sturdy” boxes feature no markings on the back or side. The company even excludes its name from labels. Furthermore, the adult toy seller even recommends its customers with children choose Royal Mail Local Collect when checking out from Lovehoney.

Whether delivering discreetly or in sustainable packaging Growth 2000 UK retailers are working to ensure that even the boxes their products come in are part of their success story.


This feature originally appeared in the RetailX UK Growth 2000 2022

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