What is Sustainable Packaging for Cosmetic Products?








Reference Lab

NOV 05, 2022


In today’s day and age, clean beauty often goes hand in hand with green beauty. For many consumers, sustainable cosmetic packaging can be just as important as the cosmetic product itself, as more and more consumers shun plastic packaging. Sustainability efforts can underscore beauty brand values that may mirror the thought and responsibility going into product development as a whole, which is why ensuring your products are sustainably packaged is just another way to thoroughly vet the brands you purchase from.

What is the most eco-friendly packaging for cosmetics?

A cosmetic brand looking to make the shift to eco-friendly packaging must be willing to keep up with the fast pace of industry-wide initiatives and other best practices in environmental alternatives. Environmentally-focused packaging innovations include refillable packaging and eco-friendly packaging materials, such as PCR (post-consumer recycled) plastics, bio-resin, sugarcane, and rice husk, to name a few.

What is the most sustainable product packaging?

With adopting “green beauty” policies, a cosmetic company (big or small) has a growing responsibility to be transparent about their sustainability efforts. This can include information or changes in the sourcing of raw materials and/or sustainable packaging to prevent excessive waste.
Recycling is one of the oldest sustainability practices, and packaging solutions have been moving in that direction. However, in order to qualify for recycling, a material needs to be: 1) separable, 2) labeled appropriately, and 3) clean for reuse.
Currently, the most sustainable product packaging is paper due to its recyclable tendencies and true biodegradable properties. Recyclable plastic is a close second, as certain types can even have a slightly better impact and energy usage efficiency than paper. Up-and-coming innovations in the biodegradable, plant-based packaging space cannot always be recycled alongside paper and therefore must be discarded appropriately.
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What types of packaging materials are sustainable

Natural ingredients like bamboo packaging and paper are gaining popularity since they are made of environmentally friendly material, are easily renewable, and are completely biodegradable. Other sustainable packaging materials are made from recycled material (or recyclable) like plastic packaging, aluminum containers, plastic bottles, or glass bottles.

What are the benefits of using sustainable materials for packaging cosmetics?

For direct-to-consumer companies, the area with the largest environmental impact is often product packaging, which is why sustainable packaging should be a paramount priority to e-commerce businesses. Sustainable packaging for cosmetics has more recently evolved to include reusable/refillable containers that let consumers play an active role in the sustainability agenda. When using refillable packaging, the outer packaging solutions will often adopt alternative materials (as previously mentioned) and serve as the reusable portion of the packaging, while the inner packaging, holding the product formulation, will be for one-time use and can ideally be recycled.
Some benefits to the consumer when using sustainable packaging include:
  • Reduces overall costs of goods
  • Reduces the amount of single-use plastics
  • Reduces waste in the environment sent to landfill
  • Encourages a sustainable lifestyle
The core goal of sustainable packaging is to provide environmentally conscious solutions that combat climate change. Luckily, the popularity and increased interest in sustainability has had a domino effect within the industry, prompting many cosmetic manufacturers to provide increased access to “green” raw materials and ingredients that align with environmental responsibility and product circularity.

What qualifies as sustainable packaging?

What qualifies as sustainable packaging?
A few common sustainability efforts include:
  • Biodegradable and/or compostable packaging
  • Use of renewable or recyclable materials
  • Reusable packaging
  • Energy-efficient/use of renewable energy during production
  • Reduction of carbon footprint

How do you distinguish between “recyclable” and “made from recycled materials”?

  • “Recyclable” implies that the material can be discarded and broken down for reuse (like aluminum cans or paper waste)
  • “Made from recycled materials” means material that has been repurposed and remanufactured into products (post-consumer recyclables, PCR)
At Oneskin, we strive to be leaders in every area of our core business, which is why our products are created with sustainability in mind. For example, our flagship product, OS-1 FACE (which contains andiroba oil and allantoin for skin), is packaged in refillable packaging, utilizing a reusable plastic shell and pump made from partially recycled material. Additionally, the OS-01 BODY bottle is fully recyclable, and the PREP bottle is made from recycled materials. We will also offer a refill pouch for PREP shortly, allowing customers to reuse their PREP bottle. Finally, OS-01 EYE (coming soon!) will utilize refillable packaging, with most components being recyclable.
Additionally, our shipping boxes are made with 60% partially recycled materials, are fully recyclable, and are printed with water-based inks.

Trends to watch for sustainable beauty packaging

One trend gaining traction is compostable packaging, allowing the natural breakdown of materials into the environment without any detrimental side effects. While aspects of this trend have been around for quite some time, complete compostable packaging is a powerful way to lower carbon footprints. It should be noted that while labeled as “biodegradable”, such packaging may simply degrade slower than conventional materials, often leaving behind solid pieces in the soil. When choosing a sustainable solution, be sure to consider what type of biodegradable material your packaging uses and whether it has been tested for the rate of degradation.
Another trend in sustainable packaging is antimicrobial packaging. This packaging material is used to solve a large hurdle in product development for alternative packaging, which is preventing contamination to the product formulation. Scientists have worked hard to create packaging materials that can kill or inhibit the growth of microbes, thus extending product shelf-life.
The future of sustainable beauty packaging stretches beyond the packaging itself. Much of the cosmetics industry is now dedicated to reducing its carbon footprint. That’s why OneSkin works closely with ZeroCarbon, a company that acquires carbon credits on projects that reduce/capture greenhouse gasses to alleviate the burden of climate change.


Sources:

  1. https://www.cosmeticsandtoiletries.com/magazine/article/22301920/cosmetics-toiletries-magazine-editors-note-devoted-to-sustainability
  2. https://www.lek.com/insights/ei/beautiful-concern-sustainability-takes-hold-beauty-and-personal-care
  3. https://sustainabilitymag.com/top10/ten-sustainability-trends-for-consumer-packaging-2022
  4. https://www.acme-hardesty.com/green-cosmetics-sustainable-beauty/
  5. https://www.greenmatters.com/p/biodegradable-packaging-problems

Reviewed by Alessandra Zonari, PhD, Chief Scientific Officer (CSO) and Co-Founder of OneSkin

Alessandra earned her Master’s degree in stem cell biology, and her PhD in skin regeneration and tissue engineering at the Federal University of Minas Gerais in Brazil in collaboration with the 3B’s Research Group in Portugal. Alessandra did a second post-doctoral at the University of Coimbra in Portugal. She is a co-inventor of three patents and has published 20 peer-reviewed papers in scientific journals.

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