“We started by building a sustainable geothermal lab” , says Mathilde Thomas, co-founder of French beauty brand Caudalie. She’s referring to the brand’s solar-powered facility in Gidy, France, which has become a mini-ecosystem in itself.

“We have huge fields around the lab, beehives, homemade honey and beautiful local rare sheep—they are the ones who eat the grass.” Other key elements of the brand’s approach include creating formulas that are highly biodegradable and employing in-house green-packaging engineers to help achieve its goal to be fully zero waste by 2022. To kick off the initiative, Caudalie has revamped its Resveratrol Lift line, now packaged in fully recyclable materials and formulated with a patented vegan collagen booster developed in collaboration with Harvard Medical School. The range is housed in translucent glass because opaque doesn’t recycle well, says Thomas. The brand also did away with metal-foil lining, a purely ornamental design feature that’s common in luxury cosmetics, reducing its carbon footprint by 40 percent and eliminating one tonne of plastic. “That was my biggest challenge,” says Thomas. “To look [elevated] yet use less paper and plastic.”

Like Caudalie, certified-organic skincare brand Pai is going beyond eliminating superfluous packaging components and has undergone a complete rebranding to reflect its commitment. “We removed laminates from boxes a while ago, but there were still these pockets of compromise in our portfolio, and we just knew we could do better,” says founder Sarah Brown. Outer cartons are now made of 50 percent recycled board and are free of adhesives, and tubes are made with a blend of recycled plastic and bioplastic derived from sugar cane. “We’re educating customers on how to disassemble their packs,” says Brown. Unfolding the casing reveals all the information that would typically be found in a disposable leaflet, including recycling instructions. Anything that can’t be converted into reusable material, like multi-component pumps, can be returned to retailers collaborating with Terracycle, a private recycling company that has also partnered with Caudalie.

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