"Go Well have been absolutely fantastic sustainability subject matter experts for us to draw on in our journey towards becoming a 100% circular, carbon positive beauty brand. Under Nick's guidance, they have helped us with our sustainability strategy and goals, provided insights into packaging recyclability, and worked with us on issues around circularity and carbon emissions. Nick has a robustness to his strategic thinking and a real depth of knowledge from working across so many different industries. We were impressed by how quickly he got up to speed with our business operations and goals, he’s encouraging, proactive, and positive to work with, but also importantly, he’s pragmatic and understands the balance around sustainability, commercial decisions, and the customer sustainability journey."


We started working with Emma Lewisham in late 2020, during a time of rapid growth and expansion. We first worked with Emma and her team to develop a Sustainability Strategy, before supporting them with its implementation through our Part-time Sustainability Team service. Alongside supporting them and keeping them accountable to the strategy, we reviewed their existing communications across their website, social media, and PR and provided advice and content to better communicate the impressive work they were doing in this space. This included working with them extensively on their global PR campaign in 2021, which resulted in huge awareness and the endorsement of Dr Jane Goodall.  

Being a brand set on disrupting the beauty industry and driving change towards a circular and regenerative industry, Emma Lewisham had to start with their packaging. Due to the complexities of beauty packaging (see About Recycling for more info) almost all of it is being sent to landfills, incinerated, or is polluting ecosystems around the world. This is why Emma and her team created a whole new packaging system.

They started with their packaging design, which has resulted in the majority of their products becoming available in removable/reusable pods. When empty, the pods can then be returned to Emma Lewisham to be sterilised, refilled, and resold. These pods are made out of recycled plastic. 

For products that can not be packaged this way (typically the oils), a glass bottle is provided initially, with refill pouches available for purchase thereafter. 

Both the pouches and pods can be sent back to Emma Lewisham at no cost to the customer (they ask you to send four empty vessels at one time). These containers are then reviewed and sorted. Damaged pods and all pouches are transported to their recycling partner and the undamaged pods are diverted to their laboratory to be sterilised, refilled, and resold.  

Mindful of the transport emissions involved, Emma Lewisham have set up collection points in their major markets to consolidate the returns before retrieving enough to ship back to New Zealand. 

While working with Emma Lewisham, we challenged them to go beyond achieving a Carbon Neutral (aka Carbon Zero) certification and instead offset more than they emit to achieve z Carbon Positive (aka Carbon Negative and Climate Positive) certification. Going another step further, they committed to mapping and offsetting their emissions to a product level (a far more onerous and expensive undertaking than operational emissions). They undertook this work with Toitū and became the first beauty brand globally to achieve a Climate Positive certification. 

In doing this work, it was calculated that by purchasing a refill pouch or pod the carbon footprint was 57% – 74% lower than purchasing the original packaging. A phenomenal outcome if the entire industry was to shift to the same refillable packaging system – remembering the global target to stay under 1.5℃ requires a 50% reduction in emissions by 2030. 

With this in mind during their 2021 global launch, Emma Lewisham provided their packaging IP free of charge to all beauty brands. 

With their new system in place, the challenge is now almost entirely focused on engaging Emma Lewisham customers to change their behaviours and hold onto their empty containers and then return them. A simple task made incredibly challenging by years of habitually throwing empty beauty packaging into kerbside recycling or landfill bins (a decision that often results in the same outcome because most beauty packaging is not recyclable). 

Emma Lewisham are tackling this challenge with the following solutions: 

  • Selling the refill products at a lower price than the originals (despite the increased cost to the business in developing the packaging molds and retrieving, sorting, and sterilising the containers).
  • Providing a free-of-charge return sticker at their online checkout.
  • Developing a rewards scheme for returns.
  • Securing multiple retailer partners who accept returns.
  • Continually communicating the impact of choosing refills. 

The true success of this work won’t be known for another few months yet (potentially years), due to the lag time that is in the returns system. 

In addition to their packaging focus, Emma Lewisham have a commitment to sourcing raw ingredients from suppliers and farmers following regenerative agricultural practices (read more in About Regenerative Agriculture). They had already done much of the heavy lifting before we began working with them by obtaining complete transparency and traceability of all their ingredients. Working with their procurement lead, we helped develop a sourcing guideline that navigated the complexities and intricacies of regenerative agriculture.  

If you’d like to know more about the thinking behind the work we have done with Emma Lewisham, please get in touch. 

We’re here to evolve business for the sustainable future.