Special Edition: CIRCULAR BEAUTY – SUPPLY CHAIN INNOVATION AND FUTURE PROMISE
Innerbottle pilots closed-loop beauty e-commerce platform in South Korea
Innerbottle is a South Korean packaging start-up was founded in 2017 by CEO Steve Oh, a former patent lawyer.
The company developed a mechanism to solve the problem of residue waste in cosmetic products with special silicone pouch. This ‘inner bottle’ ensures that the outer shell is clean and ready for recycling in an instant.
While this innovative concept has proven to be effective, one of the biggest hurdles it faces is the infrastructure that will ensure it gets recycled effectively.
In March, Innerbottle announced that it was partnering with LG Chem and CJ Logistics to launch IREON, a novel B2C beauty platform launching next week.
IREON will feature four K-beauty brands that use the Innerbottle system, including Akkua, Green Atelier, ELOTTOBRENNI, and Farm and Co.
“Until now, consumers could just dump the bottle in the trash. But with our new platform, they can just hit recollect and CJ will visit their homes and offices to collect the empty bottles, making it easy for them to recycle,” Oh explained to CosmeticsDesign-Asia.
Once collected, the plastic bottles are sent to LG Chem, which will process them into post-consumer resin (PCR) which can then be used to remake more bottles.
“Since we can easily track the entire history of the bottle, it will be very safe and high quality. We also assume it will be cheaper than the current PCRs because those need to be sorted, cleaned and transported, which all bring about more costs,” said Oh.
“Of course, the benefit of using our system is that it will always be clean because the contents are contained inside the inner bottle and are easy to remove. It will lessen the cost of cleaning and also increase the quality of PCRs.”
The IREON platform is just the start. Oh told us that the firm is currently developing a mobile application which will make it more accessible for consumers.
“Our goal is to finish our prototype within this year and probably get it up and running from the next year.”
In addition, the Innerbottle is also exploring the possibility of replacing the use of silicone with LG Chem’s nitrile butadiene latex.
“This is currently under development and can significantly lower our price. This way, it can be applied to lower priced products such as shampoos or body lotions,” said Oh.
New testing ground
IREON will be piloted locally in Korea first. However, Oh revealed that the firm is planning to bring the platform to Singapore for another “test run” in the future.
“Singapore is a small country, and the people really care about sustainability. We believe it’s a really good market for us to test this closed loop system.”
Oh is hopeful that the success of IREON and its new partnerships will encourage more adoption by beauty brands, which has proven to be a trying task.
“Cosmetic brands have their own brand, design, and packaging. So, it’s not easy for them to give that up. We’re at the beginning of making a new kind of market and I’m quite positive that we will expand, and more brands will participate.”