Plastic & Packaging

You are either reading this missive on our website or in the reception area of our salon in Southampton and thanks in advance for doing so. I have given recent interviews to the likes of Sky Business News with Ian King to CityAM and Katherine Denham. The subject of plastics and packaging has been hot on the agenda and I thought it would be good to share some of the information that has come up with you.

Do we have all of the answers? – Absolutely not but we have worked hard to make sure we have better performance with ultra concentrate products that have a high percentage of modern, active ingredients, as well as much less packaging where we can. The secret to product performance, is to get the ingredients where needed, with minimal waste. men-ü ultra concentrate Shave Crème is a good example of this, with the 100ml bottle providing up to 165 shaves and equivalent to 3 x 200ml aerosol shave gels (approx.)

We are continuously working to reduce the size and weight of our packaging and this is highlighted by the recent launch of refill packs which are cheaper. Styling pucks are single wall, rather than a puck within a puck, to make the pack look bigger. Our styling pucks are full to the brim at 100ml.


Precise data is very difficult to obtain regarding packaging & in particular plastic packaging. Perhaps not surprisingly, because it is not in the interests of the producers & generally large manufacturers that use, such packaging. According to the Worldwatch Institute in Washington – 299 million tons of plastics were produced in 2013 (an increase of 3.9% over 2012), which accounted for 8% of global petroleum consumption (4% going into the plastic & 4% used to power plastic manufacturing processes.) Assuming the same growth rate to 2019, this would equate to 376 million tons this year! It is guesstimated that 10-20 million tons of plastic are now ending up in the Oceans per year. One of the best articles I have read regarding the problem of packaging & plastic in particular was written by Jessica Morgan in January 2019. Jessica includes a lot of the key elements surrounding this problem.

  • 120 billion units of packaging are produced every year by the global cosmetics industry, most of which are not recyclable (Zero Waste Week)
  • Approximately 250 of the world’s largest companies, accounting for 20% of all packaging, have teamed up with the Ellen MacArthur Foundation to pledge to end plastic waste. Committing to eliminate plastic when it’s unnecessary & to shift to reusable packaging in some cases. By 2025, they plan to make all plastic packaging either reusable, recyclable or compostable.
  • Greenpeace points out how the leading consumer brands involved in global initiatives such as The New Plastics Economy Global Commitment have no plans to reduce their overall plastic output (Louise Edge, UK Senior Oceans Campaigner.) “…individual commitments being made by companies to date just don’t go far enough.”
  • “Refills are available for washing up liquid and fabric conditioner, why not shampoo and conditioner?” (Rachelle Strauss, founder of Zero Waste Week.)

The UK Plastics Pact was launched in April 2018 with one of the aims of encouraging consumers to recycle more & industry to aim to use recycled plastic on 30% of products by 2025. Many of the major retailers & manufacturers have signed up to this pact. Emma Priestland, Friend of the Earth campaigner told Huffington Post UK “Many companies over-package so that the products appear larger, but providing refillable packaging is what would really get them noticed.”

Ways Forward

  1. The UK government have said that by April 2022 they will put a tax / duty on imported & UK manufactured plastic that consists of less than 30% recycled plastic. This is unlikely to reduce the overall level of plastic use & any cost increase is likely to be passed on to the consumer. There is also an issue about how many times plastic can be recycled & how safe the plastic will be going forwards. Will there need to be new recycling categories, based on the number of times plastic within the mix has been recycled, as well as the question, as to whether it is safe? Surely SIGNIFICANT REDUCTION is a good start point, in anyone’s book.
  2. Plant based bio-plastics that can biodegrade. “The use of alternative materials will always look positive on the face of it, but not when it is putting pressure on another habitat, country or ecosystem. Using sugarcane to produce biodegradable plastic is fantastic, but all the positive change can be undone if this isn’t implemented responsibly.” (Jessica Morgan Independent Jan 31, 2019)

Thoughts from the men-ü brand

Our position is quite clear, in that we believe the first significant & obvious step, is significant reduction, as part of our 3R approach to grooming (REDUCE – REUSE – RECYCLE.) As many of the Experts involved with this problem have highlighted, it is ultimately for governments to decide / regulate. Charities / Protest Groups can heavily influence this but if their first approach is to want money for this influence, then the big companies will dictate the pace of change, as they have the funds. Also Pacts seem to just have aims without much guaranteed commitment. Governments & Influencers should be talking to Disruptor Companies / Brands, as they tend to start from a blank sheet of paper, are not looking to retain the status quo & most definitely are looking to push the boundaries. By all means talk to the big companies to hear the case for the defence but start with the Disruptors, if you want to consider significant change & at pace.

We do not consider plastic free as an option, when it is essentially a great invention but the production, use & disposal / recycling, needs to be treated with the utmost respect. Plastics have added positives to society, in terms of it being light, durable & in the right environment offers product security & stability. What has not been handled at all well, is the disposal / recycling!

If the top Experts in their field, related to this issue, do not get together to make decisions on the right way forwards – a) recycled plastic mixed in, b) bioplastic or c) maybe significant reduction in plastic use, along with the right systems to recapture & recycle will be enough? There is the real possibility here of a Diesel Moment. Not so long ago Diesel was seen as a significant way forwards, as a fuel & along came the push for bio diesel. I am not a strong historian who knows the facts related but there was certainly a push from the EU & one would assume Germany, being a strong part of this, which is maybe why so many German car manufacturers sunk so much money, into developing diesel engines.

With men-ü we know that product performance is our key objective but that packaging is also a key element, related to performance & the first significant step is REDUCTION & this is what we have done where we can, with ultra concentration & now the launch of refills. We would like the men-u brand to be seen as a Smart / Hi IQ brand, with an Eco responsibility & not as just an Eco Warrior. In terms of the next step in the future, as to what plastic to use & how, governments & leading Experts, with no hidden agendas, need to get involved. Join the debate to get resolutions quicker!

Kind Regards,

Graham Fish

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