A beauty industry veteran, Victor Casale knows a thing or two about building brands. After serving as the chief chemist at MAC Cosmetics from its inception through its acquisition, he later went on to found CoverFX. Now, he’s back in the beauty startup world in a big way as the co-founder of two brands he’s helping run simultaneously: custom skin-care brand Pure Culture Beauty and refillable makeup brand MOB Beauty.
His interest in revamping the way beauty is packaged and sold comes from a long-held interest in sustainability. In fact, he spearheaded MAC’s “Back to MAC” package recycling program 35 years ago, pre-dating municipal recycling in many cities. Now, he’s the co-founder of beauty recycling program Pact Collective, which has 160 members and partnerships with retailers including Ulta Beauty and Sephora. On this week’s episode of the Glossy Beauty Podcast, Casale goes into extensive detail on refillable beauty, his experience with recycling in the early days, the way Pact Collective works and how consumers can demand change.
The product lifecycle:
“Thirty years ago, we could launch a product like Studio Fix, for example, at MAC, that would have a long time in market as an innovative product. … Today, it’s almost 18 months. … Within a year, the customers are saying, ‘Well, that was good. Now what have you got next?’”
The origins of ‘Back to MAC’:
“What we did back in the MAC facilities in Toronto is we had an area in our facility where we had big cardboard barrels, and we took things apart. Back in the early days, I would scrape mirrors off of compacts, snap caps off of lipstick tubes, and sort them all out. We turned this material into pallets we used in our warehouse to move material around; some of the dirtier stuff we used for park benches in the area around our facility. And that always stuck with me.”
Getting to the processing part of the recycling system:
When you’re recycling material, any material, there’s a minimum threshold that you really want to to process at any one time where the cost/carbon footprint benefit is there. … Each plastic or metal or glass material has a certain volume benefit to process for recycling. And those numbers are big; they’re 50,000, 100,000 pounds. They’re big numbers. And of course, beauty packaging is very small. It takes a while to collect enough.”
“The consumer is the one that ultimately determines whether the material will be recycled. … If a consumer doesn’t purchase a product that is hard to recycle or ends up in landfill, that’s the best solution. The company who’s selling it realizes they’re not going to sell it unless they change. So that’s the most impactful.
We’ve been conditioned by the industry — not just the beauty industry, other industries — where you just purchase, consume and discard. And there’s no thought about what the afterlife of the discarding is. You worry about where your ingredients come from. … Generally, we don’t think about what happens after we toss it either in a recycling bin or in a garbage bin. And those are the biggest, most impactful changes that can occur, and it’s starting to happen.”