How The Body Shop is Turning Pollution into Packaging

Creating Plastic From Air Pollution

How The Body Shop is Turning Pollution into Packaging

In 1993 I landed my very first job as a cosmetics sales person. It didn't last long - I was head hunted by a bigger company (L'Oreal) very quickly and went on to work for the Lancome division for many years.

However, that first job began me on a path which lead to Daniel Thompson Beauty in 2008. The Body Shop, at the time a franchise based business, seemed so revolutionary in the early 90's. It was saying and doing things no other cosmetics company was at the time.  In the six months I worked for the company I learned phrases and systems, which today are commonplace, like Fair Trade, eco-friendly, ethically sourced, fair pricing, Community Trade, not tested on animals. The Body Shop was seen, back then, as a fringe company; not really a legitimate cosmetics company - but rather a social activist company.  

All that has changed, though. Today the guiding values, of The Body Shop, are the standards by which large companies are judged by consumers.  The Body Shop, itself, is no longer seen as a fringe company.  In fact, these driving values have created a company which bow has 2500 locations in 61 countries making 1200 different products generating $2.2B annually in sales. 

This powerhouse brand is starting a new revolution in the industry.  As one of the very first brands to carefully consider the ingredients and ingredient sources for their products this year The Body Shop announced it will change the way packaging is manufactured for its cosmetics. Plastics have been used for decades to create cosmetics packaging, however plastic is made from petroleum and is a non-renewable resource. The Body Shop announced, last week, it will be shifting its packaging to a carbon negative model within the next 4 years. Not carbon neutral but rather carbon negative. 

The Body Shop will be using packaging which is made from air pollution.  

This past week I was given the opportunity to speak with Christopher Davis, International Director of Corporate Social Responsibility at The Body Shop International to try to get an understanding of this new technology: “The Body Shop is a company that has pioneered different ways of thinking, a legacy we’re immensely proud of. We want to take action to reduce our impact on the planet, radically reinterpreting the way we sell and buy cosmetics and how our customers use them. We are inviting global experts to support us in achieving this goal, a journey that will ensure 70% of our product packaging does not contain oil-based plastics by 2020.” 

As the first step in the new initiative The Body Shop has created a development partnership with California-based Newlight Technologies to introduce AirCarbon to house The Body Shop products. AirCarbon is a thermoplastic material that behaves the same as the plastics, but rather than using oil as a carbon source for plastic, this innovation uses methane and carbon dioxide, which would otherwise be released into the air as a greenhouse gas, hereby taking greenhouse gasses out of the atmosphere and creating a physical products. The AirCarbon production process is carried out at a yield that is over nine times higher than previous technologies, providing a solution that replaces oil with captured carbon. The Body Shop is the first company to commit to an effort to industrialize AirCarbon in the beauty industry.

Commenting on the partnership, Christopher Davis adds: “The impact of our research commitment with Newlight we hope will support this global business in increasing resource efficiency of product packaging, providing market access to new ways of buying and using The Body Shop products and services and increasing the perceived value of packaging and materials."

Within the next few years The Body Shop will not only be ethically sourcing all its ingredients but will actually be using packaging which re-purposes pollution in the atmosphere.