We'd rather have a box of Eco Pops
Fruit knows the secret to great packaging. Bananas have sussed out bright, biodegradable casing, oranges make their own compostable wrapping and apples grow skins destined for more than bins. Here at Lush, we believe our parcels should be equally as smart.
Nature is inspirational. We make the most of it in our glorious products, like our fresh face masks, packed full of natural ingredients. We also protect it by supporting fantastic environmental causes through initiatives such as Charity Pot. When we combine these aims together, sustainable packaging is the result.
At first, we tried popcorn (yes, that’s right popcorn). It could be transported in its tiny kernel form, saving transport emissions by lowering the lorry loads needed during production. It could also be composted straight after use and - as an added bonus - delving into your parcels felt reminiscent of trips to the cinema.
Experimenting further with packaging that doesn’t cost the planet, Lush soon swapped popcorn for compostable packaging nuggets made out of potato starch. However, every year UK manufacturing demands meant 28,000 bags of expanded packaging nuggets called Eco Flo were transported over 300 miles to Lush UK from the nearest supplier.
We soon realised that we could be greener. So in spring 2018, the Earthcare engineers started developing Lush UK’s eco-packaging systems. With a goal to reduce waste and carbon emissions in gifts, we started producing a form of compostable packaging called Eco Pops, in-house!
This innovative change from externally sourcing product to in-house production has cut out 24,000 kilometres of lorry miles travelled per year in the UK. This saves 19 tonnes of C02 emissions being produced, every year.
Jeremy Davies, engineering manager from the Process Improvement team says, “By producing our own packaging pops, we’ve reduced the 100 truck deliveries of expanded Eco Flo down to just four truck deliveries of corn starch pellets every year.”
To make Eco Pops, small but mighty pellets of cornstarch are mixed with a dash of vegetable oil and extruded under high pressure and heat. Under these hot and steamy conditions, the starch starts expanding into those protective puffy shapes we know and love and has similar properties to polystyrene.
Back when we were forming popcorn, motors would heat the air which then caused the kernels to pop. In the Eco Pops process, the heat is generated by friction and transferred directly to the starch, saving considerable energy in comparison.
Once expanded, just one 700kg bag of pellets makes enough protective Eco Pops to fill a whole articulated lorry. Unlike plastic packaging nuggets, Eco Pops biodegrade quickly in water and soil and are better at keeping your products secure against impact during transit than their polystyrene counterparts.
This makes them brilliant for safely transporting all your Lush favourites direct to your doorstep. If your willpower is strong enough to save your products for another day, they’re also great for storage - just scoop a handful into a spare box, drawer or makeup bag before nestling everything in for later use.
Eco Pops might not be particularly colourful or glamorous, but they’re the apple of our eye.