The A-Zs that rocked 2021: Zero-waste packaging

Home-based business Staunch Food co-founders Bill Chan and Claire Chan pack their dishes using cloth, opeh leaves or glass containers. PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - These days, it is almost taboo for a beauty brand not to align itself with the green movement and use sustainable packaging.

In 2019, Forbes reported that the global beauty industry produces 120 billion units of packaging annually, making it one of the top contributors to plastic waste.

Increasingly, more brands are taking note and introducing sustainable or refillable packaging and recycling initiatives - in a bid to reach zero waste.

Zero waste is loosely defined as waste prevention, or the efficient use of resources, with the common aim to reduce or eliminate trash sent to landfills, incinerators or the ocean.

From consumer goods companies to luxury labels, brands are doing their part. Global players Aesop, Kiehl's and The Body Shop, as well as local skincare brand Re:erth, offer recycling programmes that incentivise shoppers to recycle their empties.

Earlier this year, The Body Shop put in place a permanent refill system at some stores, encouraging customers to swop out plastic for aluminium bottles.

On the packaging front, many are revamping with zero waste in mind. Lush, Hermes, Dior and Sisley are just some of the big names which have introduced refillable lipsticks, with bullets that twist out so the container can be reused with refills.

This year, French skincare company Caudalie debuted a range of cleansers packaged in bottles made from 100 per cent recycled plastic, kick-starting an overhaul of all its packaging. For Christmas, it launched fully recyclable gift sets packaged with zero per cent virgin plastic, 100 per cent Forest Stewardship Council paper from sustainably managed forests, and plant-based inks.

Similarly, since last year, home-grown est.lab began a progressive change of all its products' outer box packaging - to be made from tree-free paper sourced from sugarcane waste. They are also recyclable, 100 per cent biodegradable and fully compostable.

Another industry that is moving in the zero-waste direction is food and beverage, but it has been more challenging for business owners in the light of the pandemic.

With the surge in the use of packaging for delivery and takeaways, they have to balance operational needs with reducing waste.

Online food delivery platforms are reducing the use of disposables. Now, disposable cutlery is not included unless explicitly requested when ordering.

In July, foodpanda launched its global Sustainable Packaging Programme to retail 100 per cent plant-based and perfluoroalkoxy- alkane-free eco-friendly packaging to its restaurant partners.

At contemporary restaurant Salted & Hung in Purvis Street, its zero-waste practices involves more than just eliminating single-use packaging.

Ingredients and their byproducts are fully utilised, kitchen residuals become animal feed, and shells from seafood get upcycled into art and lifestyle pieces. Chef Drew Nocente also aims to hold workshops on minimising waste in the kitchen and other sustainable practices.

Home-based business Staunch Food is on a mission to prove that F&B companies can be profitable by eliminating disposable packaging altogether.

Only oven- and microwave-grade glassware, as well as banana and opeh leaves, are used to pack food. The prices of the dishes include the cost of the glass containers they come in. Customers can keep them or return them upon their next order for a refund of up to $4 each.

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