How to bring perfumes into the Symbiocene era? A study

According to the two specialists,perfume is one of the most packaged products in the world, with the most unfavorable container/content ratio”. In this exclusive study structured in four chapters, Pascale Brousse, founder of the Trend Sourcing Agency, and Gérald Martines, founder of the packaging innovation consulting company In•Signes, offer a multitude of avenues and avenues for reflection to reverse the trend. current. and bring this product category into a new world of sustainable luxury.

The study aims to provide operational tools to understand what can be done to improve the environmental impact of perfumes based on sociology and inspired by experiences in related fields,explains Gérald Martines.

Reduce, Reuse, Recycle… Refuse

In the introduction, Pascale Brousse takes stock of the state of mind of this industry, of which gamers have definitely started thinking green. “Today, it’s almost suspect to launch a fragrance that doesn’t offer at least one “lasting” characteristic. Even the most conventional brands and composition companies have revised their offerings accordingly,” she says.

However, for her, it is essential to go even further towards a new era called “the Symbiocene”an era of symbiosis with nature, as opposed to the current period sometimes referred to as the “Anthropocene”.

The Anthropocene is the geological age when Man acquired the monumental power to modify the very structure of the Earth System, the biosphere, the oceans, the climate… It is an unsustainable state that generates irreversible damage. Consequently, we should give up our way of life, as predators of natural resources, and enter the Symbiocene era, an era to be invented and where Man would live in symbiosis with Nature,says Gérald Martines.

He also reminds us that the most pragmatic eco-design tool is to implement the 3Rs, in the right order: Reduce, Reuse, Recycle. “There is actually a fourth R, which stands for Refuse. Consumers are the decision makers: if they are not convinced, they will refuse the product,warns Gérald Martines.

Inventing new formats

Moving forward, the study invites companies to broaden their vision beyond the standard model of an alcoholic juice, a glass bottle and a vaporizer, and to imagine new gestures, new galenic forms, and to draw inspiration from related fields. “We have already observed many experiments with galenic forms, packaging and unconventional gestures. Solid perfumes are reinventing themselves, gels and pencils are appearing… But we have to go further. Right now, there are many new solutions in the skincare category that consist of concentrated formulas to dilute. Why could it not be considered for perfumes? Fragrances that could be diluted at home? Or In&Out perfumes? The best-known format still has a bright future ahead of it, but young consumers are very keen on new experiences,explains Pascale Brousse.

If we mention these different galenic forms, it is because this choice is far from being ecologically neutral. Each galenic form corresponds to a pack and a gesture. These dimensions have a significant influence on the environmental impact,adds Gérald Martines.

A reflection in four acts

The study then explores four main themes: clarification, circularity, regeneration and Symbiocene.

The concept of lightning is linked 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 sachets…“, explain the experts.

The notion of circularity includes reuse and recycling. “Even the notion of “defect” will change: it will be a differentiating point. The idea is that nothing will be thrown away, everything will have value. Glass manufacturing generally generates high waste rates that can reach more than 40%: four out of 10 bottles are thrown away! Sometimes for a small visual imperfection without any effect on functionality. This notion of imperfection can be questioned: why not consider flaws as singularities that shape the personality and uniqueness of each bottle?ask the two specialists.

The question of regeneration is closely linked to that of carbon emissions. “In the years to come, we will have to focus on restoration and repair. Some make-up brands are already emerging with concepts based on regenerative agroforestry, which consists of working the soil to bring it back to life. It can certainly be an option in the perfume industry,explains Pascale Brousse.

We also deal with initiatives such as those of Coty and L’Oréal. They use ethanol or plastic based on captured CO2. It is a step in the right direction. There is a new eco-design strategy that will be to systematically check if resources can be taken from available waste, and it even works with CO2adds Gérald Martines.

Finally, the study ends with a hoped-for entry into the symbiocene era and what a perfume industry in symbiosis with nature would look like…

Sarah C. Figueiredo