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A more sustainable Advent calendar

Jennifer Joan Williams, International Business Manager responsible for gifting at NIVEA, and Rene Toutounji, Packaging Developer, shared with us their latest project: the plastic-free Advent calendar, which is available this x-mas season.

Jennifer had been thinking about the subject of plastics for several years. It was during her travels in her sabbatical year that she personally experienced the tremendous amount of plastic – coming from everyday consumption – that ends up in nature. She then realized how important it is not only to be aware of this, but to take active measures.

Rene as a packaging developer – on the other hand – likes to be inspired by unboxing videos where people express their joy about a special packaging or certain packaging properties of a product. “Our influence on the packaging is great as a packaging developer. And the aspect of sustainability has always been very present in our Gifting team anyways. As first movers, we can now claim with this year’s Advent calendar that we have developed a packaging that is truly sustainable, well thought through and nicely designed.”

Jennifer and Rene met to accomplish this project together and proved to be a very effective and innovative tandem to successfully bring the first plastic-free Advent calendar to life.

In comparison to 2018, when the calendar was produced with a disposable plastic insert, Jennifer and Rene designed and manufactured a completely plastic-free Advent calendar in 2019. This calendar is not only sold in Germany, but also in 16 other countries. The inlay of the Advent calendar consists of 100% recycled plant fibres, which are pressed into a so-called fibre casting.

Fibre casting is made from waste paper fibres dissolved in water, renewable fibre materials such as hay, straw and hemp and formed into the desired shape in a vacuum, pressing and drying process. “In the end, fibre casting is super stable and especially sustainable, since it is made from old paper and also the water used for the manufacturing process is recycled over and over again,” says Rene.

“Our calendar consists of different materials. The outer shell is made of FSC-certified cardboard and the inlay is made of cast fibre. What I find somewhat unfortunate is that often times, the information that is communicated on the product packaging does not go beyond the product content itself and consumers can hardly find detailed information about the special features of a packaging. For example, about the correct disposal of the packaging. We have also considered this aspect in our Advent calendar and from our point of view have significantly improved this dimension as well,” adds Jennifer.

Not only are the materials sustainable, but transport costs have also been reduced to a minimum. “It was a big challenge to find a suitable supplier who could deliver the product to us from a short distance to save both costs and CO2 emissions.”

In total, the switch to more sustainable packaging materials from 2018 to 2019 saved around 14,000,000 single-use plastic parts. Not only the Advent calendar initiative of Jennifer and Rene has contributed to this, but also other projects and packaging developments.

Katrin Selzer

About the editor: Katrin Selzer

Katrin has been working at Beiersdorf since 2003. After various positions in marketing, strategy, digital and PR, she is since September 2018 Senior Communication Manager and responsible for the topic of sustainability. For Katrin, sustainability has a high personal relevance, since it changes the world for the better – and she contributes by communicating about it. Her communication is very passionate and she tries to also push the topic forward. In her private life, she is constantly seeking new ways and means to live a more sustainable lifestyle and inspire others with it.