Julien Barreau

Creative Buyer, LUSH Cosmetics

1. Why did you choose a career in the Packaging industry?
I really enjoy the experimental side of packaging research and development, this is an exciting area as the possibilities are endless. In addition, I am passionate about ecology and sustainability and making packaging sustainable is my personal challenge.

2. What are the main responsibilities in your role?
My main role is developing new packaging and processes using sustainable methods and materials. I strive to reduce the environmental impact of packaging without affecting the essentials of product packaging such as protection and customer experience. I also manage sourcing, supplier relations and the packaging buying strategy.

3. What are your three biggest challenges daily?
My biggest challenge is to develop new sustainable packaging which complies with Lush’s environmental criteria, protects the product and gives the customer a rewarding experience. To overcome the challenge, I need to be innovative, work closely with suppliers and manufacturers and have the best possible understanding of machinery and processes. Additional challenges include solving the various supply chain issues to avoid any breaks in production and making sure our actions match our ethical buying policy.

4. Can you describe one of your biggest ‘success stories’ during your time as a packaging professional?
My biggest ‘success story’ was my latest! We were looking for packaging for our bath oil product and wanted to avoid using plastic. We have created packaging made from recycled coffee cups in cooperation with James Copper, a long established UK paper mill. This is packaging produced from 100% recycled paper, therefore it is biodegradable and recyclable. It was a real success to achieve our aim of not using plastic and to find a use for the waste fibre from coffee cups.

5. Mass customisation and consumer engagement are becoming hot topics among the packaging community: what’s your position?
Customer experience is a growing area, for me customisation is the main aspect. This has been encouraged by the growth of digital printing. More recently with media coverage it has become that customers require more eco-friendly packaging.

6. Digital printing in particular, following its strong diffusion as a valuable tool for 1:1 marketing, is considered by many as the game-changer for packaging. Are you more confident or sceptical?
I think digital printing is the future, it gives flexibility to customise and allow more creativity. Using digital printing, it’s easier to produce small runs for limited editions. This is definitely a game changer for the packaging industry with digital innovations such as laser etching and 3D printing.