The Rise of Precycling

Who are precyclers? “There are people who avoid products with too much packaging or that produce too much waste,” said Mintel analyst Nica Lewis in remarks delivered at the 2008 Centifolia congress in Grasse, France. “They’re actually addressing the problem at the source; cut down on the waste before it’s created. They’re deciding against buying products based on this criteria.”

These consumers buy in bulk, reuse water bottles and shopping bags, read newspapers and magazines online, carry around their own metal silverware and cloth napkins, and are diligent about being removed from promotional mailing lists. Most importantly, they choose products with reusable packaging.

Lewis warned, “This has huge implications for the cosmetics industry because the concept of a beauty product is caught up in the ingredients, of course, but packaging is extremely important in the niche and higher-end of the market. This is a threat for us. These people are choosing not to buy the products because of the extra packaging: the jar inside the box that’s wrapped in something else.” And although precyclers remain on the fringes of the green universe, there is evidence of the movement’s mainstreaming. Consumers across the globe have become increasingly savvy about reading labels. “In the United Kingdom,” noted Lewis, “one in four [consumers] not only read the nutritional information on the package, but they also read the ingredient list. We see many more manufacturers being very specific on their Web sites about the ingredients in their products.”

This awareness has already spread to packaging, according to Lewis. She cited Mintel data derived from 1,000 women from the United States, United Kingdom and France regarding what influenced their skincare purchases. French consumers were well ahead of those in the United States and the United Kingdom when it came to packaging’s impact. Still, Lews explained, recyclable packaging is the top influence among packaging-conscious consumers. In addition, there is a noteworthy increase in both biodegradable packaging and ingredients. Precycling’s ascension, she concluded, is only a matter of time.

Courtesy of Pefumer & Flavorist magazine.

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