How do you get perfumes to enter the symbiocene age? A study


According to the two specialists “Perfume is one of the most packaged products in the world, with an extremely unfavorable container/content ratio“. In this exclusive study, divided into four chapters, Pascale Brousse, Founder of Trend Sourcing Agency, and Gérald Martines, Founder of packaging innovation consultancy In•Signes, provide a variety of focus areas and food for thought to reverse the current trend and transform this product category into one enter a new sustainable world of luxury.

The study aims to offer operational tools to help understand what we can do to improve the environmental impact of perfumes, drawing on sociology and drawing inspiration from experiences in related fields.‘ explains Gerald Martines.

Reduce, Reuse, Recycle… Deny

As an introduction, Pascale Brousse gives an update on the mindset of this industry, whose Players have definitely started to think green. “Nowadays it is almost suspicious to launch a perfume that does not offer at least one “sustainable” property. Even the most conventional brands and compounding companies have reviewed their offerings accordingly,” She says.

However, for them it is important to go even further towards a new age called “Symbiocene”.an era of symbiosis with nature, in contrast to the current period sometimes referred to as the “Anthropocene”.

The Anthropocene is the geological age in which man gained the monumental power to change the structure of the Earth system, the biosphere, the oceans, the climate itself… It is an unsustainable state that is causing irreversible damage. As a consequence, we should abandon our lifestyle as predators of natural resources and enter the Symbiocene Age, an era that needs to be invented and in which man would live in symbiosis with nature,‘ says Gerald Martines.

He also reminds that the most pragmatic ecodesign tool is to implement the 3Rs in the right order: reduce, reuse, recycle. “There is actually a fourth R that stands for Refuse. Consumers are the decision-makers: if they are not convinced, they reject the product,warns Gerald Martines.

Invent new formats

To proceed, the study invites companies to broaden their vision beyond the standard model consisting of an alcohol-based juice, a glass bottle and a spray, and to imagine new gestures, new galenic forms and be inspired by related fields. “We have seen many experiments with unconventional galenic shapes, packaging and gestures. Solid perfumes are reinvented, gels and sticks have emerged… But we need to go further. There are many new solutions in the skincare category right now that consist of concentrated dilute formulas. Why couldn’t it be considered for perfumes? Perfumes that could be diluted at home? Or in&out perfumes? The best-known format still has bright days ahead, but young consumers love new experiences,‘ explains Pascale Brousse.

If we mention these different galenic forms, it is because this choice is anything but environmentally neutral. Each galenic form is accompanied by a pack and a gesture. These dimensions have a significant impact on the environmental impact,‘ adds Gerald Martines.

A reflection in four acts

The study then explores four main themes: Brightening, Circularity, Regeneration and the Symbiocene.

The concept of lighting is related to the sociology of lightness. “This approach should be applied to everything. The bottle, but also the cap, the pump, the decoration… Some brands no longer use caps, such as Escentric Molecules. Floratropia does not use bottles, but bags…‘ the experts explain.

The notion of circularity includes reuse and recycling. “Even the term “bug” will change: it will be a differentiator. The idea is that nothing will be thrown away, everything will have value. Glass production typically causes high waste rates of up to over 40%: four out of ten bottles are thrown away! Sometimes for a small visual imperfection with no impact on functionality. This notion of imperfection can be questioned: Why couldn’t we look at flaws as singularities that shape each bottle’s personality and uniqueness?‘ ask the two specialists.

The issue of regeneration is closely linked to the issue of CO2 emissions. “In the coming years we will have to focus on restoration and repair. Some makeup brands are already emerging with concepts based on regenerative agroforestry, which consists of tilling soil to bring it back to life. It can definitely be an option in the perfume industry,‘ explains Pascale Brousse.

We also look at initiatives like Coty’s and L’Oréal’s. They use ethanol or plastic based on captured CO2. It’s a step in the right direction. There is a new eco-design strategy that will systematically test whether resources can be extracted from the existing waste and will even work with CO2‘ adds Gerald Martines.

Finally, the study concludes with a hoped entry into the Symbiocene Age and what a perfume industry in symbiosis with nature would look like…


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