How does sustainability challenge luxury packaging?

What are the next steps?

Ways in which companies can continue to improve the eco-friendliness of packaging is to use fewer ink colours to achieve designs, and focus more on the properties of their board with regard to weight and whiteness levels. Bioplastics are being discussed by luxury brand owners, package designers and converters, but to date there are only a few examples of these materials being used for luxury packaging because of their relatively high cost.

Companies can also maximise the use of metal in their products. A current concern for the luxury packaging industry is that some brand owners are now increasingly replacing eco-friendly metal with plastic, particularly in the confectionary and spirits markets. This removes connotations of luxury and also compromises the environmental credentials of the product.

Meanwhile, metal's low carbon footprint is derived from its high recyclability rate, and has the potential to be recycled an infinite number of times without molecular degradation or loss of structural integrity. Metal is the most commonly recycled of all household materials - almost three quarters of metal packaging is recycled in Europe. 

Crown Specialty Packaging Europe's use of metal directly challenges the theory that sustainability credentials should be 'hidden' on luxury packaging to retain connotations of prestige. The metal tins they produced for Nicolas Feuillatte champagne have a printed recyclability message to demonstrate the brand's commitment to sustainable development. Another factor largely unique to sustainable, luxury metal containers is their potential reuse around the home once contents have been consumed. Crown saw the potential in using tins for storage or display when creating striking, elegant metal containers for Lambertz' Luxury Best Selection biscuit brand. 

According to Veronique Curulla, European Marketing Manager at Crown Specialty Packaging Europe, "Metal packaging, along with the various decorative techniques available, gives luxury brands the twin benefits of dazzling impact and environmentally-friendly appeal. It actually enables the two factors to work together - forming part of a consistent, high-quality brand image." 

While producing cosmetics products in metal tins, paperboard cartons or thin glass jars may be good for the environment, marketing to an industry centred around image, especially when it comes to luxury products and brands, requires careful handling. Manufacturers need to provide luxury packaging companies with packaging that looks as though it is contributing to the often enormous suggested retail price of the product, yet also has some environmental responsibilities. 

More about the luxury packaging market can be found in market report The Future of Luxury Packaging to 2015.