Online Exclusives

Chanel's Packaging Sustainability Program

January 18, 2011

Packaging executives provide details on efforts to reduce the environmental impact of their beauty products.

At PCD 2011, which was held Feb. 8 and 9 in Paris, Chanel’s Michel Dupuis, packaging development and purchasing strategy director and Pascale Marciniak Davoult, packaging innovation and research director, will provide details of their latest efforts to reduce the environmental impact of their products. But before they head to the podium, they took time to speak with PCD’s Sylviane Robinet, who wanted to learn more about Chanel’s efforts.

Sylviane Robinet (SR): Michel, at the 2011 edition of PCD, you co-chaired the session Perfumes, packaging and innovation with Pascale. How do your Chanel teams take account of sustainable development ?

Michel Dupuis (MD):In 2007, we decided to assess our carbon footprint. It transpired that packaging accounted for half of our CO2 emissions, followed by the transporting of finished products to our shops or warehouses. Getting to work or other forms of business travel ranked third. Based on these findings, we drafted our plan of action.

SR: You thus decided to act on these various points ?

MD: First of all, we decided to take action to reduce carbon emissions as of the product development stage. Thus, in 2008, we called on EVEA consultants to help us develop a tool for our development engineers. This tool was completed in June 2009 and has been used since that time by Chanel development engineers.

SR: You presented this tool at PCD. It was developed to better control the environmental impact of your packaging, but what does it actually consist of?

Michel Dupuis
MD: Basically, it provides for an evaluation/approach that is both qualitative and quantitative. Qualitative, through a system of questions that create a dialogue between marketing and creators. It is a way of challenging the brief with marketing, in order to make sure that nothing has been overlooked, for example, in terms of recyclability or product reuse.

As for the quantitative side, this tool automatically gives the carbon equivalent of the packaging and an aggregate value for other criteria depending on the materials and process used. Together with the main cosmetics suppliers, the experts in the profession, we have managed to refine the generic data available in the plastics industry, metal processing, glass industry and printing. This approach has enabled us to obtain specific values for our sector of cosmetics in relationship to the technologies used.

SR: In other words, it is a kind of decision-making tool?

MD: When we develop a new product, we include all the materials and components used and then compare them with benchmarks chosen from among our existing products. The goal is not to say"I am going to reduce my CO2 emissions by 50%," but simply to do a bit better than last time. So the idea is to improve with each new product development. That is part of the decision-making process. Indeed, we cannot always choose the best option even if that is our objective.

SR: Did you develop this tool solely for Chanel?

MD: Initially, it was designed solely for us, in view of the compulsory environmental labelling to be introduced in 2011. And government bodies had also been thinking about this kind of tool for some time.

In the end, we decided to provide this tool free of charge to the profession to get things moving.
Before acting on this decision, we took the precaution of discussing it with the CNE (National Packaging Council), ADEME and the FEBEA to field their comments.
Their views were very positive by and large, so we decided to make our tool available to players in the cosmetics and perfume sector. We therefore removed any trace of the Chanel brand from our software to turn it into a generic tool.
Our goal was to present it at PCD2011 and then to make it available free of charge to our suppliers, clients and colleagues.

SR: Considering Chanel's position in the cosmetics and perfume sector, you will no doubt spur all the players to follow suit with this initiative!

MD: Giving this tool, which has been tested and is moreover practical and suited to our lines of business, to people who will find it useful on a daily basis is reassuring. It avoids senseless expenditure and makes it possible to save time. Finally, working toward sustainable development also calls for a degree of generosity. One should not consider that having this kind of tool is a competitive advantage; it needs to be shared.

SR: How do you consider PCD contributes to innovation in perfume and cosmetics packaging?

MD: Insofar as we are concerned, PCD is the only forum that combines an exhibition of innovative suppliers and a conference with high-caliber speakers who truly address relevant innovations. The fact one finds all the decision-makers in the profession makes this venue quite unique. In general, attendees consider that it is a truly unique, interesting gathering conducive to exchanges that foster ideas.

Innovation in companies is something that is complicated to set up as one has to convince people in-house, have a company strategy in accordance with the genes of the brand; and one must also have the right methodology, in addition to developingthe right approach with supplier partners, who act as a base.

For a supplier, PCD is an important step in making one's innovation known. PCD is not to be missed; there is no doubt as to the fact it is a very good congress-exhibition!

SR: Hello Pascale. You moderated the PCD 2011 innovation workshop on the theme of new packaging services and functionalities to enhance consumer well-being and lifestyle. Why did you feel it was interesting to discuss this theme?

Pascale Marciniak Davoult

Pascale Marciniak Davoult (PMD): This theme is of prime interest. Exchanges during this workshop may lead us to reflect on matters such as how to improve effectiveness, ergonomics, simplification or sophistication depending on the case; how to use the pack as a vector for information, without, of course, forgetting the pleasure of the object per se.
Finally, a basis for discussion and exchanges during the Workshop might be, for example, how to add the relevant technique, performance and emotional relationship with the product, and reconcile all these features!

SR: It is generally recognized today that consumers take account of the environmental impact of the products they buy. Can you tell us about the difficulties involved in integrating functionalities and making them compatible with the environment?

PMD: It is true that it is by no means easy. But the paradox is that far from acting as a brake, it is a factor that enables us, both now and in the future, to open up new avenues for innovation.
Each company has its codes and its DNA and it is by thinking differently about the environment that one can create new packaging designs. It is these new concepts that will steer us along uncharted paths. The way is thus not easy but it will be a factor of innovation for the future. It is very often the challenges flowing from these paradoxes that enable companies to excel.

SR: This innovation workshop will bring together representatives of brands and their suppliers. How do you view this mixture, this melting-pot, if I may put it?

PMD: That is exactly what makes this kind of event so valuable. PCD is an opportunity to hold a constructive discussion with all the players in the production chain, who are on the spot. One can thus talk about projects in a truly worthwhile manner and create new avenues for thought.

SR: Pascale, Michel, on behalf of PCD, many thanks for this interview !

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