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Article | January 31, 2004
Driving the use of renewable resources
Aveda's John Delfausse offers advice for those involved in advancing the use of renewable resources in their companies’ packaging operations.
"When we [began using recycled] polyethylene, our supplier was a trucking company that started by recycling batteries before it began collecting milk bottles and a stream of black plastic," recalls the vice president of package development for Aveda, a division of New York, NY-based cosmetics maker Estée Lauder."They were saying in order to be competitive and to make a market for their recycled material, they actually sold at a discount or close to the same price as virgin PE," Delfausse says. "They’re able to do that because they’re a trucking company. Instead of bringing trucks back empty, they’re bringing them back with recycled bottles now. So we can buy the resin at a discount, or for about the same price [as virgin resin]."Learn about packaging innovation at The Packaging Conference in Orlando, February 3-5, 2014 Purchasing savvyAveda initially used the recycled material for a coextruded bottle, trapping the recycled material between virgin layers. "When you coextrude versus extruding, a bottle costs a little bit more in processing," he says. "We were able to do this because we redesigned and went into a competitive bidding process. We had a supplier that wanted to get the business. I found that by getting a competitive bidding situation involving a number of different suppliers, we could usually make things come out at the same cost, if not less cost. That’s good old purchasing savvy," says Delfausse.Competitive bidding is nothing new, but it’s proven effective for Aveda. "When we repackaged our whole hair-care bottling line, we went into a competitive bidding process," Delfausse says. "By doing that we doubled our use of postconsumer-recycled resin and saved about $1 million a year."Leverage economicsDelfausse says, "[Industry] has to make it to their economic advantage" to use renewable resources in their packaging. Another tip: material pooling. Aveda has been involved in the formation of the Sustainable Packaging Coalition . "One of the things we’re talking about doing with a sustainable packaging network is getting a critical mass of companies such as Unilever, Estée Lauder, Pepsi, and others to push the market and make it worthwhile for companies to collect that material."
Although cost is a constant concern for Aveda, it plays second fiddle to designing packages with environmental concerns in mind, and sharing those findings with industry. "A lot of people might see it as a competitive advantage to market an environmentally friendly package," Delfausse states, "but from Aveda’s standpoint, we’re going to share our technology because it’s the right thing to do.
"I think the key to getting into this whole concept is to understand your mission as a company and have senior management buyoff," he concludes. "The reason we’re so successful is because we have a president who supports the mission and gives direction that the environment is important."
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