Social & Environmental responsibility
Ruinart Second Skin Case: innovation for sustainability
Maison Ruinart teams spent over three years developing a disruptive packaging that envelops the champagne bottle like a second skin. The 100% recyclable eco-designed casing perfectly marries the emblematic silhouette of Ruinart’s signature bottles while preserving the integrity of the taste until the moment the elixir is enjoyed. This pioneering achievement is the fruit of a long-term collective commitment by teams at the Champagne house and its partners.
The case is instantly fascinating, with a shape unlike any box currently used by the wines and spirits market. Ruinart’s new packaging is almost other-worldly. As its name – Second Skin – signifies, it perfectly replicates the signature shape of Ruinart bottles, heightening the elegance of the curves as it hugs them. The ethereal lightness of the case, thanks to a construction in 100% cellulose fibers, contrasts with the current imposing norm in the world of champagne. The surface of the second skin evokes the walls of the Crayères de Reims, the ancient chalk quarries and natural wine cellars where Maison Ruinart champagnes age, giving the case a silky, organic feel. The novel coffret opens and closes thanks to a snap fastener to reveal the bottle nestled in its second skin.
In addition to its elegant look, the new packaging is extraordinarily eco-friendly. Eco-designed from start to finish, it is nine times lighter than the previous generation of Ruinart gift boxes (just 40 grams, compared with 360 grams previously). The carbon footprint has been reduced by 60%, and 100% of the paper comes from sustainably managed European forests. What’s more, 91% of the water used is clean enough to be released back into nature after filtering. None of these innovations of course have any effect whatsoever on the unique taste of Ruinart champagnes. Even though it is ultra-thin, the second skin is totally resistant to humidity and service uses. It protects the wines from light as well, which is essential to optimal storage, especially for the clear glass Ruinart Blanc de Blancs bottle.
Maison Ruinart President Frédéric Dufour says the new packaging marks a decisive stage in the Champagne house’s holistic environmental approach:
“Innovative, authentic and environmentally-conscious, the second skin case crystallizes our commitment to sustainability.”
Priority on preserving the environment
This bold project is a natural outgrowth of the decision by Ruinart’s teams over ten years ago to take sustainability initiatives to another level. An Environmental Performance Index (IPE) was created to measure the impact of all projects within Moët Hennessy, the LVMH Wines & Spirits division. Starting in 2015, Ruinart innovated with the launch of a box that was 50 grams lighter, saving over 200 tons of paper at the time. The same year it eliminated all plastic wrapping from boxes, saving an additional 26 tons of material. Recycling was also improved by making the different packaging materials easy to sort.
The second skin springs from this dynamic, aiming to push even further from the outset. “With the 2015 box we had reached the limits of eco-design for a conventional single bottle case. We wanted to define and invent a new generation of sustainable cases, motivated by a desire to focus on the essential, meaning generating as little waste as possible in order to contribute at our level to protecting the environment, while at the same time protecting our champagnes,” says Marie Lipnitzky, International Brand Manager at Ruinart and Project Manager for the Second Skin Case.
Waste and recyclability were the top priorities during the thinking that led to the core concept of the project: the second skin had to have the least possible environmental impact while revealing the curves of the Ruinart bottle. The team quickly decided that only a single material should be employed to ensure easy and total recycling of the packaging. This was joined by a requirement that the case be opaque and have a memorably elegant design that reflects a brand with a reputation for excellence such as Ruinart, all while elevating desirability.
From concept to execution
The brief was submitted to several creative agencies. Among them, Chic instantly won over Ruinart teams with a sleek, refined proposition that perfectly met the specifications. The agency also proposed a single material for the case, cellulose fiber, or paper pulp. The Ruinart Packaging Development department then came on board, working with Procurement to find the right manufacturer to realize the agency’s design. They settled on Pusterla 1880, a box maker with which Ruinart regularly worked, and James Cropper, a British paper specialist.
A long-term collective effort then kicked off as the different contributors compared needs and potential responses to devise a solution consistent with the high expectations of the project. The process proved tremendously inspiring for Ruinart teams, who were completely engaged to execute this groundbreaking innovation in technique and form. “You could feel the intellectual emulation throughout this collective adventure to achieve a shared goal. The designers, the Packaging Development teams, and the manufacturers were all palpably excited by the project,” smiles Marie Lipnitzky.
The adventure lasted over three years. No packaging anything like a second skin existed in the market and the team literally began with a blank page. The engagement of the manufacturers Pusterla 1880 and James Cropper was decisive in developing a case with a level of quality that set a new standard of eco-packaging excellence. The two suppliers reworked the initial design several times to render it compatible with their machines. One of their key contributions to the case was the addition of a 100% paper snap closure on the side, a considerable technical feat.
The second skin’s “Crayères” look and feel were also the work of Pusterla 1880 and James Cropper. Marie Lipnitzky recounts how the idea for the texture came about. “This look was actually inspired by a manufacturing flaw in one of the prototypes. We initially had a smooth surface in mind for the case, but there was a problem with the press, which creased the paper at one place. We thought that it really reminded us of the walls of our Crayères in Reims, which are a UNESCO World Heritage site and an integral part of our own heritage. So we decided to replicate this look for the entire surface of the case. It also gives it a really silky touch that we instantly loved as well.”
Altogether it took seven prototypes to get the perfect result. The case had to be impermeable to light to protect the champagne from light waves. Paper alone, however, is not sufficient to filter out all the light, so additional research and testing had to be done to find a new technique. The cellulose mix was enriched with natural metallic oxide – also used in making certain organic sun protection cosmetics – to reinforce the opacity. Oenological testing was conducted with each new prototype to ensure that the taste of the wine was impeccably preserved.
A series of tests also had to be done to validate technical aspects of the case, in particular the closure, which had to be all-paper to respect the eco-design mandate. The finish of the case, including cutting with a high-pressure waterjet to ensure seamless edges.