Single use plastic and absorbent hygiene: How do and could they work together? Should they go together? How is the supply chain adapting to evolving trends? How does this impact us developing the future generations of products? Consumers are becoming more proactive –consciously choosing to improve our lives, our families lives, and to help the environment. We are looking to reverse previous decisions which have caused environmental damage and destruction, to heal our environment and make improved and informed choices.  

 Recent Futerra* research established that 88% of consumers want brands to do more to help them make a difference, with 90% of Gen Z consumers expecting brands to do more to help reduce climate and impact and improve the state of the world. Already, one in seven people changed to more sustainable beauty products from the months of April to July 2020. 

 Assumed brand loyalty is waning – consumers proactively researching. It stands to reason therefore, that it’s VERY likely that those brands who are more engaged with environmental programs (monitoring, target setting, taking action and reporting) will acquire brand loyalty due to building consumer confidence, as they mirror the proactive, responsible, conscientious characteristics of the consumer.  As the perceived (and very real) value of the environment increases, so the value of other aspects of product raw materials, manufacturing and impact-reporting will change in relation to this. Brands need to know that if they lead, customers will follow.  

So how can this knowledge impact our approach to developing new products? This is something we at Crown Abbey help our clients with on all our projects. It is our responsibility to do so. Its not about greenwashing- its about true sustainability, of business and the environment.  Non-woven products are life changing, they have huge value during use BUT they have value after use too. ‘Single Use’ doesn’t mean it hasn’t come from something else or that it can’t be turned into something else. Our responsibility includes ensuring that our products are part of the circular economy, and that waste, energy, raw materials, transport, emissions, chemicals and workers rights are all taken into account in product and packaging choices.  Regulators taking steps and retailers are taking even bigger steps much more quickly. From Amazon’s Climate Friendly Pledge to Walmart’s Sustainability program – brands have to get on board, if we want to stay on shelf. 

As R&D folks, as product development, as manufacturers, we have always been driven to improve our products, thus improving the experience for the consumers. Developments which have led to quicker absorbency, less rewet and less malodor, using the best technologies available have often lead to using more plastic. We now have to look at how we fit into a bigger picture, and we need to develop more holistically. That means selecting the best technologies that fit a new list of requirements – a list that includes the raw source material as well as the end of life. We can’t possibly slot into a circular economy otherwise. 

We have to develop products not just for the average baby or the average woman, but cast our eyes wider. It is the personalized approach we have been striving for – and also an inclusive one. We also have to understand how to develop products whose value lives on past being used by our consumers. How can we add value to other industries? The opportunities to develop new partnerships across industries is here and at Crown Abbey we excited to learn about them and to continue to innovate for our industry.