Sustainable Material, High-Quality Look

With its “Farbige Lippenpflege”, Kneipp is venturing to bridge the gap between decorative and care cosmetics. At the same time, the company is taking further steps towards sustainability in packaging. In addition to innovative materials, this includes its own collection system.

Natural products for well-being and health based on the holistic teachings of Sebastian Kneipp: Kneipp’s new “Farbige Lippenpflege” (“Colorful Lip Care”) is also in line with this guideline. But the first innovation is in the product name already. While lip care in the range has so far been classically colorless, it is now becoming more colorful. “In order to bring colour into lip care, we have ventured a little bridge between decorative and care cosmetics with the new stick”, explains Philipp Keil, Head of Packaging Materials Management at Kneipp.

The goal of this step is to visually enhance the product. “We want to show that a high-quality look and a sustainably packaged, natural product aren’t contradictory,“ emphasizes Keil. The packaging specialist attaches importance to the concept of bridging the gap. The decorative aspect should not be overemphasized. But in the design language of the pen with its bevelled tip, the borrowings from cosmetics are clearly recognizable.

Award-winning design

Kneipp immediately received a “Red Dot Award 2021“ for the “Farbige Lippenpflege”. The “Samtweich“ (“Silky Soft“) lip care, for which Kneipp had already attracted attention with its special packaging in March 2020, has already won several awards. Among other things, Kneipp had replaced the upper part of the sleeve, which had previously been made of plastic, with a new material called Paper Blend. While this feels similar to plastic, it consists of 99 percent ingredients known from the production of paper. Paper Blend is petroleum-free and biodegradable.

Kneipp also uses Paper Blend in its “Farbige Lippenpflege”. In the process, Keil and his team not only tweaked the design, but also optimized the use of materials once again. “The primary packaging and the folding box have a slimmer design. The lip on the packaging indicates function and color in the same way and visually establishes a link to decorative cosmetics,” Keil points out. The folding box is made of 25 percent grass paper. This saves another 3,000 litres of water per ton compared to conventional paper. The closure is made of Paper Blend. Finally, the sleeve is made from a mixture of Paper Blend and cork. Part of the cork is obtained from waste produced during the production of wine corks. “Paper Blend and cork can be recycled, but there is not yet a separate recycling stream for it,” Keil explains. “So, we decided to offer our own collection system in our Kneipp stores.”

Moreover, as Keil explains, Paper Blend, cork and grass paper are produced in Europe. The raw materials for these also come almost entirely from the European Union. This means that transport distances can be kept short for most of the packaging concept.

Making compromises and moving forward

“The high-quality look, natural ingredients and sustainable choice of materials for the packaging make for a well-rounded overall concept,” the packaging specialist is convinced. For implementing this, however, some compromises were also necessary. “Due to the choice of material, for example, you have to make a few compromises in the colourfulness of the cap, and the freedom in the choice of colour is limited.” Moreover, when printing on grass paper, the colours could not be rendered quite as brilliantly as with plastic, for example.

“If you want to make progress in sustainability but don’t want to neglect the look, you have to put up with something like this.” Step by step improvements: Keil also wants to proceed according to this motto. He is bothered, for example, by the fact that the inner mechanism of the lip care still contains conventional plastic. And he promises: “We’ll tackle that next.”