British Luxury Sustainability Report | The Case Studies: Molton Brown

Following the launch of the British Luxury Sustainability Report last week, we will take a look at the luxury brands featured in the report each Wednesday, and how they are pledging their commitment to a more sustainable future. We begin with a focus on the Circular Economy: those brands Pledging to make 100% of plastic packaging reusable or “widely recyclable” and include at least 30% post-consumer recycled content; demonstrating a Commitment towards extending product life through circularity initiatives; and sending Zero wastage to landfill and incineration across own operations.

Molton Brown | Blending luxury and sustainability on the journey to circular packaging.

Conserving natural resources and pioneering conscious solutions sits at the heart of Molton Brown’s brand ethos, and when it comes to optimising packaging and reducing waste, the company knows it has a real opportunity to make a positive impact. With a keen focus on eliminating single-use plastic and offering refillable solutions across its core categories from 2023, Molton Brown is exploring multiple routes including luxury refills and closed loop recycling schemes. In particular, its elegant new 200ml handwash glass bottle and refill pouches deliver an 80% reduction in plastic footprint, compared to using two 300ml single-use PET bottles.

“Consumers have an appetite to change their lifestyle, but today they don’t have the options to do so in our category,” says Beatrice Descorps, Marketing Vice-President at Molton Brown.

“Our industry has a responsibility to shift away from disposable beauty towards a circular economy, and we’re committed to playing our part by pioneering the luxury refillable solutions of tomorrow.”

So how did Molton Brown innovate to achieve its new refillable handwash glass bottle? “As we reinvent our packaging, it’s essential that we continue to deliver luxury experiences,” Descorps explains. “This means crafting irresistible packaging solutions that our customers will want to invest in and treasure over time.”

Molton Brown’s refillable glass handwash bottle exemplifies this ideal, combining form and function. Featuring thick-cut, seamless glass and a weighted base for a luxury look and feel, it retains the iconic shape and brand cues of the original bottle, delivering an enhanced version of its rPET predecessor. As the first luxury refill option offered by the Loop zero-waste shopping platform, it was also vital to fine-tune the design for longevity. Loop enables consumers to order a range of food, beauty and household products online, and return their packaging for recycling.

Molton Brown collaborated closely with the platform’s technical teams to ensure the bottle was sufficiently durable to be cleaned for reuse multiple times with the Loop system. Available in Molton Brown stores and online since September 2020, each refill pouch will also enable consumers to refill their Molton Brown bottle twice. Designed to deliver convenience and value, the simple yet elegant pouch provides clear refill instructions, while helping to raise awareness of the plastic reduction benefit.

While the current pouches are not yet recyclable, the company continues to investigate and is determined to find a high quality, recyclable solution. Descorps emphasises the need to consider a product’s entire lifecycle and opt for the choices that deliver a greater environmental benefit overall. Through its partnership with Loop, which launched in the UK in July 2020 to an initial 5,000 households, Molton Brown has enabled customers to order three of its popular Fine Liquid Hand Washes in the new 200ml glass bottles: Orange & Bergamot, Delicious Rhubarb & Rose and Coastal Cypress & Sea Fennel.

With one product line selling out within days, Molton Brown is confident that its refillable offering will continue to gain momentum, as the platform scales up.


And the innovation doesn’t stop there. To make sustainability easier and more desirable for consumers, Molton Brown plans to launch its own national scheme to incentivise customers to return their used packaging for recycling.

Trialled in five stores in 2020, the ‘Return. Recycle. Reward’ scheme enables customers to return an empty 300ml bottle or equivalent, along with the accompanying caps and pumps, and receive a 10% discount on their purchase.


The company has observed tangible enthusiasm among both its consumers and store employees for the refillable solution and in-store recycling scheme. “The consumer response has exceeded our expectations,” says Descorps. “We’ve been really amazed by the positive reaction… Our audiences, older fans and new alike, are incredibly receptive to our sustainable packaging efforts.”

The most recent step on Molton Brown’s sustainable packaging journey is a move to 50% rPET 300ml bottles for all bath and body and hand categories from 2021, a shift that goes beyond compliance and reduces the brand’s use of virgin plastic by the equivalent of approximately 4.8 million Molton Brown 300ml bottles per year.

“Customers understand that beauty packaging is not going to change overnight,” concludes Descorps. “They are ready to embark on the journey with us, while we continue investigating new solutions to help them do good.”
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