‘A big learning process’: Suu Balm mulls over future sustainability plans as it rolls out new green initiatives
Towards the end of 2022, the company launched three refill and recycle stations in its home market. It also launched refill pouches for its body washes, which allow the brand to use 80% less plastic.
Additionally, the brand has recently launched a new shampoo with a bottle that is made of 50% recycled plastic and has a recyclable pump.
This is only the start for the Singapore-based brand. It has future plans to roll out more recycling and refill stations as well as environmentally friendly packaging.
“We’re going to make changes to our other packaging to make it all have a better impact [on the environment],” said Dr John O'Shea, co-founder of Good Pharma Dermatology, the firm behind Suu Balm.
Suu Balm’s efforts to become a more sustainable operation are aligned with the company’s ambition to achieve goals that go beyond just the business.
“At Suu Balm, we're trying to help people with skin issues. And eczema, in particular, has many, many triggers, one of which is environmental pollutants. We realised that addressing these environmental concerns goes very much together with what we are trying to do with our products,” said O'Shea.
These new initiatives will also help the company gain valuable information, which will help it to decide how best to move forward in its green journey, O’Shea told CosmeticsDesign-Asia.
“This is a big learning process. What we’re trying now is at a small scale and learning how to do it. If for instance, refill packs become the hottest thing, we will have the confidence to do more.”
Meanwhile, there is ongoing research and development going on in the background to help the company achieve its eco goals
“With materials, for example, you can get plastics made from sugarcane and other different sources. The ideal would be zero petrochemical plastic in your plastics, anything that doesn’t degrade into a microplastic would be a positive step as well. Also, ingredients that are made in the most environmentally friendly way possible and factories that are close to net zero emissions,” said O’Shea.
“This would be the ideal world. Of course, we still have some way to go. But at least it gives us plenty of things to do and we’re not stuck on ideas because there are many things we can work on.”
The start of a journey
Having sold over 1.5 million products all over the globe, it made sense to make changes in its packaging, said O’Shea.
“We looked at various aspects to see where we could address our environmental footprint and decided to start with packaging. In theory, it was the easiest to work on but as it turns out, it wasn’t so easy.”
O’Shea listed various obstacles the brand faced including sourcing for the right packaging, costs, and fulfilling the minimum order quantity (MOQ).
“Just finding the right materials has been more difficult than we thought it would be. We discovered that most refill pouches are made from non-recyclable materials, for instance. Even with our refill stations, we had to persuade our manufacturer to fill some 55-litre containers.”
He added that the company also had to run tests on the large refill containers to ensure the product will not get contaminated.
“This was important because the people that use our products have eczema and other skin issues. We had the factory run some tests and after a few rounds there was no contamination detected. We’ve had to do a couple of such things to build some confidence in these.”