Sustainable cosmetics giant, Lush, is well known for its extensive range of packaging free products. The brand is the home of one of the most widely available ranges of shampoo bars alongside a catalogue of other solid products that just seems to keep growing. Rowena Bird, co-founder of the company, has always sought to make packaging that people would want to keep rather than throw away. Even now, she states that the packaging for each item is thoroughly assessed for its environmental impact and innovative alternatives are developed where no answer is readily available.
This is where Lush’s new ‘carbon positive’ packaging comes in. Whilst naked products cut out unnecessary single use plastics, shampoo bars in particular still need to be allowed to dry between uses in order to remain usable. For a while customers have been able to buy an aluminium pot to protect their shampoo bars in the shower but perhaps not for much longer.
Lush has released new cork packaging, an entirely biodegradable material that may even sequester carbon in its production. Cork comes from the cork oak, a tree with thick bark that renews between harvests. This means that to produce more cork you need to plant more trees to harvest from. Miles King, a nature writer associated with the company, told The Telegraph that, where production of their aluminium pots releases 9kg of CO2 per kg of metal, a conservative estimate puts the sequestered CO2 for each pot at over 1kg of the gas.
But it isn’t just the material’s ability to remove carbon from the atmosphere that makes it ideal. Cork oaks are often grown in dry environments to prevent desertification and provide habitat for a number of endangered animals.
Lush hopes to grow its cork production in a slow, considered fashion and are looking to buy half a million of these new pots for products within the next year. The company is also trialling shipping the pots by sailboat from South Portugal in an effort to reduce their carbon emissions even further and make this packaging innovation truly carbon positive.