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Sustainability in Luxury Packaging

A product’s packaging often delivers the first high-touch moment for our consumers, providing a sense of prestige and luxury right at their fingertips. At the same time, packaging must protect the products inside, which means it must be sturdy and durable. Prestige packaging presents a tremendous opportunity for innovation because it plays such an important role in consumer experience. Incorporating sustainability concepts into packaging designs is a strategic imperative, and we believe our creativity and inventiveness can help advance solutions for our brands and for the personal care and cosmetics industries at large.

Packaging Sustainability Guidelines

The Estée Lauder Companies (ELC) is focused on reducing potential environmental impacts of a package across its lifecycle. In fiscal year 2020, we launched Packaging Sustainability Guidelines for our package developers, marketers, and procurement teams. The guidelines contain an overview of our approach, definitions, material selection guides, and FAQs. In addition, the guidelines provide direction for design that enhances packaging sustainability. They outline our priorities, which include:

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Reducing and removing packaging where possible

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Designing packaging that is reusable and refillable

Makeup products

Building designed-in recyclability


Increasing amounts of Post-Consumer Recycled (PCR) material in packaging

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Replacing petroleum-based plastics with bioplastics (if the bioplastic can be recycled and does not contaminate the traditional recycling streams)


Reducing Plastic Use

At ELC, we have developed internal plastic guidelines to help drive the reduction of virgin and nonrecyclable plastic across our business. The guidelines aim to advance our commitment to incorporating more sustainability concepts into our packaging, products, offices, retail stores, and other facilities. Read more in our Plastics viewpoint.

Luxury Packaging Sustainability Partnerships

We approach packaging with a spirit of collaboration and innovation. We engage with companies, academia, and consortiums to help further our collective understanding of sustainability in packaging for the benefit of everyone involved.


Sustainable Packaging Initiative For Cosmetics (SPICE)

We are members of the Sustainable Packaging Initiative for Cosmetics (SPICE), a cohort of organizations in the cosmetics industry that are collectively shaping the future of sustainable packaging. Our membership allows us to maintain voting rights, ensuring we have a voice in important discussions; in this way, we can co-create methodologies and tools to drive the future of sustainable packaging for cosmetics.


Ellen MacArthur Foundation

We are also members of the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, which brings together leaders and innovators in business, governments, and academia to contribute to society’s transition to a circular economy. Through our membership, ELC employees have access to a portfolio of educational trainings on the importance of shifting to a circular economy and how industry can help expedite that shift.


Association Of Plastic Recyclers (APR)

In fiscal year 2020, we joined the Association of Plastic Recyclers (APR), the North American trade association representing companies that acquire, reprocess, and sell the output of more than 90% of the post-consumer plastic processing capacity in North America. Becoming a member of the APR gives us access to industry experts to better understand how to design plastics for recyclability.


Sustainable Packaging Coalition (SPC)

We are proud to be a founding member of the Sustainable Packaging Coalition (SPC), which brings together businesses, educational institutions, and government agencies to collectively strengthen and advance the business case for more sustainable packaging. Through the SPC, 250 of our package developers and marketing and creative designers are utilizing the online learning platform and accessing training courses on topics such as the essentials of sustainable packaging, composting, bioresin, ocean plastic, and advanced recycling, which is the chemical breakdown of plastic waste into basic components to rebuild new polymers.

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