Colart is on a mission to cut out single-use plastics


Colart aspires to be a catalyst for a more sustainable art materials industry. In terms of plastics, the company is working towards zero single-use plastics by finding more sustainable alternatives in its packaging and products.

Colart's Winsor & Newton promarker pens in a new packaging

Today, single-use plastic is an important packaging element for many of Colart’s products – from how they are shipped to how they are presented in store. Plastic tubes and bottles also ensure products such as paints and oils have a long shelf life and retain their quality over time.

However, through its Sustainability 2.0 strategy, Colart is working to revolutionise its packaging material towards zero single-use plastics. The company’s approach involves working on multiple fronts simultaneously to develop solutions for specific products and processes, and focusing on the activities and initiatives that can make the greatest difference.

Getting serious on single-use plastics

“We’ve already replaced black plastic packaging with coloured plastic, which is more easily recyclable at recycling stations around the world, and reduced the amount of plastic packaging by 60 percent for some products,” explains Richard Llewellyn, UK Manufacturing and Operations Support General Manager at Colart. “Going forward, we have identified a number of areas where we can make a significant difference on single-use plastics in 2021.”

Plastic Promarker pen boxes, pencil set packaging and product trays will be a focus area during the year. “The plastic pen and pencil boxes are being switched to FSC® cardboard boxes, and plastic product trays are being replaced by recycled plastic in 2021,” says Llewellyn. 

Example of a new zero plastic packaging prototype at Colart.

Plastic in packaging for shipping is also being targeted as vinyl tape to seal boxes is gradually replaced with paper tape. In addition, Colart has plans to switch from plastic pallet wrap to a renewable alternative.

“We are investigating opportunities to move away from single-use plastic films by looking into biodegradable or recycled plastics where it will not impact on the product or its longevity,” says Llewellyn. “We are even considering moving back to bottling oils and varnishes in bottles made from glass or recycled plastic if we deem them to be more sustainable.”

Enabling consumers to return certain used materials is an innovative solution and Colart is investigating a pilot project with a recycling company to allow consumers to return their used paint tubes for recycling. “The initiative will be third-party verified, and will ensure that both the aluminium and plastic tubes and caps can be recycled into new products,” says Llewellyn.

Another significant step for Colart is that objectives regarding the phasing out of single-use plastics have been linked to the company’s management performance programme. “In effect, this has linked our performance on plastics with financial bonuses – which really shows that we are serious about proactively phasing out single-use plastics,” says Llewellyn.

Overcoming challenges to find more sustainable alternatives

Colart is faced with several challenges to replace single-use plastics. The company is a relatively small player in the industry, which means it must closely follow developments in the market. It also means that developing new solutions that aren’t available today require a lot of work to obtain suitable samples of more sustainable materials and thoroughly test them.

Another key challenge is Colart’s huge product assortment, which means it needs to find many different solutions regarding the packaging and materials used throughout its assortment and processes.

“Despite our challenges and limitations, we are determined to make a difference – not only to our own use of single-use plastics, but to the industry in general by setting the standard, and raising awareness and expectations among consumers,” concludes Llewellyn. “We aspire to be a catalyst for more sustainable change in the art materials industry."

See Lindéngruppen Sustainability Report 2020 for more information about Colart's sustainability work.