Packaging, a traditionally neglected segment within the Halal supply chain, is now growing in importance as the global Halal cosmetics market grows towards an anticipated US$45bn by 2020, according to a Technavio report on the Halal cosmetics industry. By then it will have more than doubled from just US$20bn in 2014.
A neglected aspect
Most Muslims look at the ingredients within cosmetics to determine whether a product is Halal, but some purists will also assess the materials used to pack it, the shape of containers and labelling as well.
“You could say that this is neglected because packaging is part of the logistics process, and the logistics process on the whole is ignored,” said Dr Syazwan Talib, professor of Halal logistics at Universiti Brunei Darussalam, one of the few authorities on the subject.
“What is most important for the consumer is the Halal-ness of a product’s ingredients and how it is manufactured. There is also a lack of research that outlines the concerns of Halal packaging.”
Albéa, the French plastic packaging manufacturer that supplies the global cosmetics and personal care industry, claims to be leading the field in its embrace of the Halal market.
In May, it announced three of its Indonesian plants had been certified Halal in an effort to court cosmetics manufacturers there, as well as customers elsewhere in Southeast Asia and even Europe and North America with their eyes on the Muslim market.
“We can say without bragging we are one of the first ones around the cosmetics industry, if not the first [to supply Halal packaging],” said Anne-Laure Linage, Albéa’s marketing director.
“In 2010, the Muslim population was 1.6bn people, and it’s going to grow to 2.2bn people by 2030. So let’s be honest, that’s a huge market potential for growth.”
Albéa has overhauled its manufacturing process to ensure the newly Halal-certified plants conform to Islamic standards, all the way down to the oil that lubricates its machinery through to the way the plant is cleaned. The certification was issued by Majlis Ulema Indonesia, the country’s main accreditation body.
Rules and recycling
On receiving their tubes, bottles and dispensers, it is then up to the cosmetics manufacturer whether to maintain the Halal-ness through to the labelling, which has strict rules under Islam.
“If the customer wants to draw a sexy woman on the packaging, of course the product would not be Halal any more, but anything that comes out of the plant can be Halal, depending on what the customer wants,” said Linage, adding that Albéa’s local team can advise customers on how to design, label and market their products appropriately.
Interestingly, however, the plastics used to package a product, when recycled, do not have to conform to Halal regulations as doing so would be near to impossible.
Plastics manufacturers would have to know the past use, design and contents of every single material that had been recycled at every stage of its existence, lamented Dr Syazwan, the Brunei academic.
“To an extent, it sounds quite ridiculous. In order to tick off the source of the original materials, you will have to go down to the very minor details.”
Fortunately, most Halal regulators are ambiguous in their requirements for recycled materials—perhaps deliberately so to prevent an endless quibbling over such materials’ Halal-ness, in what appears to be a pragmatic solution to the problem.