UK-based men’s cosmetic brand men-ü uses smaller and more sustainable packaging for its 3R Grooming line; 3R stands for reduce, reuse, recycle. The products, which are currently sold on the high street and online, have a formula so concentrated 100 ml of shaving cream can give more than 165 shaves, leaving consumers with less packaging waste. The company has also launched refills for its products, to help customers be more sustainable.
Packaging Gateway spoke to men-ü founder Graham Fish about what made the company decide to be more sustainable and the future of packaging in the cosmetic industry.
Ilaria Grasso Macola: Why was 3R Grooming launched?
Graham Fish: The objective was to introduce quality grooming by making the products ultra-concentrated, with active ingredients. We were primarily driven by product performance, but then as packaging became a greater consideration, we launched the refill packs, and the idea behind that is reduction via ultra-concentration so you’re putting a lot more in a small bottle. We launched the refill packs a year ago, six months after launching 3R Grooming.
The reduce, reuse and recycle message is a fundamental part of 3R Grooming. If recycling comes from using fully-recyclable plastics and reducing comes from using concentrated product in smaller bottles, how is reusing encouraged?
You take the pump from the empty bottle and put it on the other one, so anything that goes in the dip tube and on the outside of the dip tube is not lost but gets transferred to the refill bottle. We even encourage people to take the refill cap, put it on the old bottle and turn it upside down to get the residual out because we want people to get as much out of our products as they can.
In terms of packaging content, the weight of what is recycled from our package is more than 90% less than the equivalent in aerosol shavers, as our packages weight 21 gm, compared to aerosol cans that weigh around 80 gm and are more difficult to recycle.
We had reduction through concentration and reuse through the empty bottle to the refill pack, and then recycle much less because there is a lot less weight of plastic involved.
When did you realise that the beauty sector had a plastic packaging problem?
We realised it probably four or five years ago – the main reason we went ultra-concentrate was product performance. Right now, the reason why we are getting quite a lot of exposure for what we’re doing is that people are paying more attention to recycling and environmental issues.
Have you ever considered using biodegradable packaging in your products?
The problem is at the moment it’s just not developed enough. If you knew a very good alternative to plastic bottles, I would be very interested. Having said that we have to test the stability of the products which will take time. We would still have this huge plastic issue that is not going to go away.
What does men-ü’s future look like in terms of packaging? What do you hope to develop in the next five to 10 years?
I think that if we don’t have the right system of collection and recapture, i.e. recycling the plastic in its use elsewhere, if that doesn’t work, then for us it would be aluminium. If we go down that route, it’s not necessarily going to solve the plastic waste problem.