You all know by now how much we love lush here at Boyfriend HQ! Well they are the gift that just keeps on giving! This Summer saw the launch of Lush’s new Cork Pots, the containers for their naked shampoos, and a recent study conducted by Lush on the carbon footprint of their Cork Pots demonstrated that they are Lush’s first carbon-positive packaging product. Say WHAT?
You read that correctly, the new containers, which are made for the bark of the cork oak, which is sourced in southern Portugal, were originally designed with the intention that, with each purchase, it would directly support the wider regeneration of Cork Oak Forests in Portugal.
As part of Lush’s mission to become a regenerative business, they pursue sustainable approaches in which they can reduce the environmental impact of Lush’s supply chain.
Back in 2016, whilst looking for a regenerative storage solution for their naked shampoo bars, the Lush buying team contacted Eco Intervention, a Portuguese non-profit organisation that teaches locals how to preserves their native forests and ecosystems.
As a non-timber forest product, cork is harvested by stripping the bark off the trees in a rotating system. The bark grows back over the course of nine years when it is ready to be harvested again. Also, not all trees can be harvested at the same time, as they can only start being harvested once they are fully matured (which takes 30years), and since plantation doesn’t all occur at the same time, different aged trees get harvested in different years. This also ensures constant production, as you’ll need enough trees planted to be able to harvest yearly.
Not only does the harvesting process not harm the trees, but it also encourages wildlife to flourish. It’s also a major source of employment, as each tree needs to be harvested manually, as no machine can effectively do the job without damaging the tree. Beyond the positive benefits of cork, this particular project reinvests a percentage of profits in ecosystem restoration. Lush has been using Portuguese cork to produce Cork Pots since November 2017.
Cork has been widely used for a number of things in traditional Portuguese household items due to its longevity, impermeable and fire retardant properties, (not just for wine cork stoppers) and in more recent years became wildly popular for use in other items such as shoes, handbags and accessories.
We know Lush has always championed a minimal packaging approach (currently naked products make up around 50% of their core range), and where it does use packaging, they try to “ensure all gifts and products are packaged sustainably – most of the materials used are recycled or from organic fibres and are recyclable, compostable or reusable at end of life”.
“Key findings from the study revealed that over 20,000 native trees have been planted in the first year of the cork pot production.”
In addition, on the 12th August this year, Lush Cork Pots achieved certification from the Carbon Trust as a Carbon Neutral packaging product.
“The certification verified that each 35g Cork Pot sequesters over 33 times its weight in carbon dioxide, removing approximately 1.2kg CO2e from the atmosphere. This carbon sequestration is achieved through the growth of the cork oak trees, the bark of which is harvested for the raw material of the Pots. The Carbon Trust’s Carbon Neutral label demonstrates that a product has achieved certification to PAS 2060 – the internationally recognised standard for carbon neutrality.”
The Carbon Trust looked at the full emissions lifecycle of the cork pots. This included the carbon stored in the cork forest from which the raw materials originate, the manufacturing process, transport emissions (road freight), retail and end of life. The footprint of this product was certified against the international PAS 2050 standard.
In their effort to lower their carbon emissions, Lush uses a wind-powered sailboat to transport the cork pots from Portugal to Poole. Agnes Gendry, from the Lush Ethical Buying Team says: “Obviously it is faster and much easier logistically to use a conventional ship rather than a sailboat. However, in an era of increasing environmental degradation it is crucial to look at all possible solutions to reduce our environmental footprint.
“More than simply being a beautiful and nostalgic way to transport goods, sailing could be an emission-free alternative well worth revisiting. We hope to be able to have more sail ship deliveries over the next twelve months, and to start integrating this positive handling of freight into our regular practices.”
The Carbon Trust’s Carbon Neutral label is awarded to products that can demonstrate that it is carbon neutral by measuring its carbon lifecycle in accordance with PAS 2060 – the internationally recognised certification standard for the demonstration of carbon neutrality, which requires robust measurement and offsetting using high quality carbon credits or by demonstrating that the product absorbs more carbon than it produces in the scope of certification. The Carbon Trust recognises only Gold Standard carbon credits.
“When Lush started working with cork, we knew the material was very capable of sequestering greenhouse gases from the atmosphere. But we didn’t realise just how much until we came to study it more closely and found that a Cork Pot was actually removing more CO2 than it was emitting over its lifecycle. It was a groundbreaking moment and we were delighted to work with the Carbon Trust to confirm that a single 35g cork pot is sequestering over a kilo of CO2e. Packaging that is quite literally fighting climate change.”
Confirmed Simon Brewer and Ben Davis, from the environmental impact team at Lush.
“The Cork Pot project is the culmination of 2 years of work and collaboration with Eco Interventions, an organisation dedicated to assisting farmers and landowners in sustainable management of their land and the rewilding of large areas of Forest Farmland. Lush Cork Pots are a truly ‘regenerative’ piece of reusable packaging which is biodegradable at end of life, giving our customers worry-free packaging that nature can recycle. This is the future for all packaging… There are many challenges ahead but it is up to the industry to find natural material solutions for all our packaging needs.”
Says Nick Gumery, Lush’s Creative Buyer.
“The transition to a net zero economy presents businesses with both the opportunity to develop innovative products that are appealing to consumers and differentiate their brand in the market, but also address the need to decarbonise. Lush’s 35g cork pots are exactly the kind of innovative approach to packaging that addresses these needs and we are
delighted to certify that they achieved carbon neutrality in line with international best practice standards.”
Confirmed John Newton, Associate Director for the Carbon Trust.