Plastic waste from retail packaging is a big problem. Discarded containers are finding their way into islands of ocean plastic and causing havoc to marine wildlife and beyond. We’re seeing attempts to clean up our oceans and to recycle the plastic into functional, durable products. Lush, however, is tackling the problem at the source by targeting one of the main issues of plastic waste: cosmetic packaging.
The UK-based cosmetics retailer has developed an image recognition app as part of it’s ‘naked’ initiative to reduce plastic use. Called Lush Lens, the app is a key element of Lush’s new brick-and-mortar outlet store in Milan. This store will feature entirely packaging free products. Lush’s R&D team have produced a range of solid shampoos and other cosmetics, including a sea turtle bath bomb that releases agar ‘plastic’ into the bathwater to raise awareness of how plastic waste affects sea turtle habitat.
These cosmetics were specifically designed to remove the need for packaging. However, when packaging is removed, a crucial source of product information is lost. This is where the app, also developed by the R&D team, comes in. The store has partnered with Fairphone to provide in-store smart devices loaded with the app. Customers can point the device’s camera at the product they’re interested in. The software will recognise the product and display an AR (augmented reality) information page about the product’s ingredients.
Lush Lens is powered by tensorflow, google’s powerful open source machine learning api. Following the first store in Milan, Lush plans to launch Lush Lens globally, plus a range of other ‘naked’ initiatives, throughout June.
We’ve seen a zero-waste concept store open up in the UK and an edible seaweed straw that can replace single use plastic straws in beverages. In what other ways, either through initiatives designed to influence consumer behavior or offering plastic alternatives, could see a reduction in plastic waste?