Over 1,000 new fragrances are launched every year, and the perfume industry has a surprisingly large environmental impact for its size. However, updated practices from legendary perfume brands, along with a new generation of sustainable startups, are changing the landscape for the fragrance industry. 

Eco-Friendly Fragrances Trends

In part 1 of this series, we looked at the unique challenges facing the perfume and fragrance industry. Many traditional fragrance ingredients and methods are not sustainable, and new technologies and consumer expectations challenge trade practices and secrets. However, creative fragrance brands are finding new ways to rise to these challenges with new practices, new methods, and new technologies. Here are some of the most innovative solutions in fragrances.

More Sustainable Fragrances Packaging 

For luxury fragrances, the iconic bottles and packaging are nearly as essential as the product itself. Historically, luxury fragrance packaging has been difficult to recycle, because the packaging contains many different materials that are difficult or impossible to separate. Perfume brands are looking for ways to convey quality and luxury with more sustainable packaging, including:

  • Single material packaging. Almost all packaging is easier to recycle if it consists of a single material, making it easier to sort and separate. As the recycling industry becomes more influential and more sophisticated, calls are increasing for mono-material packaging. Even challenging materials like plastics are easier to reuse and recycle when the package is a single type of plastic. UK cosmetic brand Plenaire has made mono-materials a key aspect of their sustainability initiative, using biodegradable cartons and recyclable glass along with mono-material polypropylene tubes and bottles that expedites reuse and recycling.  
  • Molded fiber packaging. Molded fiber is an attractive, sustainable alternative to plastics. Modern fibers can be molded with the huge range of shapes and structures that plastic enables, along with a wide choice of surface textures, and can be made with sustainable and renewable fibers. For fragrance brands with unusual bottle shapes, and who have developed customized molded plastic cartons and containers, molded fiber presents a simple and convenient green alternative. Sustainable fragrance brand Floral Street has been an early leader in custom, embossed cartons that are made of recyclable and biodegradable molded fibers. Even better, these cartons are energy-efficient to produce, use recycled waste water, and provide a luxury experience for the consumer.  
  • Refillable bottles and containers. Thierry Mugler has been offering refillable fragrances since 1992, and, as more brands follow suit, customers increasingly expect that option. Boutiques in France are making refills a luxury experience, with fragrance fountains that create unforgettable brand encounters while still promoting more sustainable options. Finding a way to make refilling as luxurious as shopping is a smart bet for fragrances, because it can also help to instill brand loyalty and encourage repeat purchases. 

The Demands of Transparency 

While fragrance brands jealously guard their formulas, they are faced with consumer demands for more traceability. Here are some of the newer solutions available.  

  • Traceable ingredients. Ingredient brands like Firmenich are pioneering traceable, sustainable, eco-friendly, transparent ingredients with farm-to-bottle solutions. If ingredient brands and suppliers provide traceable solutions, consumer-facing brands can provide transparency and traceability to the consumer.
  • Synthetic ingredients. While consumers love the image of natural ingredients from exotic locations, the truth is that these kinds of ingredients can be difficult to source ethically and sustainably. Today’s synthetic ingredients are a more reliable, consistent, and eco-friendly alternative, produced with less resources and less energy. Educated consumers are embracing the possibilities of lab-created fragrances and the new scent possibilities enabled by advanced technologies. Unfortunately, many synthetic fragrance ingredients have complex chemical names which can be unfamiliar on a product label, even as brands embrace transparency about fragrance sources and ingredients. 

Cosmetic giant L’Oréal is embracing transparency, rolling out a new “disclosure model” for their brands and products around the world. The company aims to go far beyond ingredient lists, helping customers understand what the ingredients are, where they come from, and how they are used. L’Oréal hopes to create a model for how other cosmetics and perfume brands can use transparency to build trust and strengthen a brand. 

While legislation regarding intellectual property, ingredient labelling, and transparent sourcing may be lagging behind the times, fragrance brands are looking ahead and finding new ways to meet the desires and expectations of others. These new methods expertly balance prestige and luxury with sustainability and responsibility. Grapefrute is proud to work with some of the most innovative brands in the fragrance business, helping them find the first-class talent they need to succeed. If you want to join them, contact us.