In recent years the high demand for organic, green and sustainable personal care products by consumers has led to a major change in cosmetic industry. The green cosmetics market showing a 15 % annual growth rate is now embraced not only by small companies but being also accepted in mainstream beauty industry. Modern consumers have a growing global consciousness and are not only looking for products with natural ingredients that are safe and healthy for themselves, but also for the environment. And while the customer can verify that the product is free of harmful chemicals and consists of natural ingredients by reading the product label, it is much harder to find information regarding the packaging. One expects that when buying a products from an eco-friendly personal care company, in addition to environmentally friendly formulations and production practices, sustainable and plastic free packaging is also used.
Majority of plastic production and plastic pollution in the world originates from the plastic packaging. Over 2.5 billion plastic bottles yearly end up in the trash with the beauty industry being a major contributor to the problem. For decades, plastic bottles and containers used for shampoos, lotions, creams, shower gels and cosmetics have been designed in a way that after using the product the containers end up in the trash.
However, it has not always been this way. In 1920s, the time when Hollywood movies and glamour led to the boom in beauty industry, the personal care and beauty products came in glass containers, refillable tins and jars. One could buy a compact powder blush packed in cardboard or in refillable metal tin, solid mascara blocks and lipsticks in pots or tins. Even when taking showers gained popularity over baths and shampoo bars were replaced with liquid shampoos, the glass bottles were refilled or recycled. In late 1950s, however, the world was changed forever by the dramatic increase in plastic manufacturing and personal care industry soon joined others to use the light yet sturdy plastic packaging which could easily be molded into different shapes and sizes at low cost.
After so many years of depending on plastic packaging, how do we return to sustainable and eco-friendly packaging and what are the current options to do so? There is not one solution that fits all, as each of alternative packaging solutions depend on many factors, such as specific product needs, technical and economic feasibility, aesthetics etc. All factors considered, the end goal is to have packaging with lowest impact on the environment while still providing the functionality for customers. While plastic industry sees an increase in bio-based and biodegradable plastics manufacturing, it still does have environmental implications. While finding an alternative packaging option for a personal care product in liquid form has challenges, some companies have switched back to glass bottles and jars and offer the refill option, thus cutting significantly the carbon footprint. Also, many hair products and deodorants are sold again in solid bars in compostable cardboard packaging.
At Finestida, we use aluminum refillable and recyclable containers as well as cardboard tubes and boxes, allowing us to keep the packaging out of the environment. To read more about the benefits of aluminum over plastic, check out this blog post.
The change has started. Joining the small ecofriendly start-ups, many well-known personal care and cosmetic companies have pledged to shift to using either recycled materials or make their packaging reusable, refillable or compostable in coming years.