A Changing Industry
Now more than ever, consumers are becoming conscious about the environment. Both Millennials and Baby Boomers are aware that their purchases have an impact. So much so that at least 66% of consumers are willing to spend more on a product if it comes from a sustainable source. And this consciousness is only growing.
While companies are trying to appeal to customers by making ‘green’ claims about their products, only a few are really going the full distance to make lasting changes.
Why? Companies have been dissuaded from changing due to higher costs and initial failure of eco-products that can come with transitioning to eco-friendly practices. That said it does pay off in the long run. These new ideas around innovations in sustainable packaging are impacting every industry, especially the beauty industry.
Beauty & Personal Care
There are many industries that are becoming more environmentally-friendly, but few have embraced the change as quickly as the beauty and personal care industries. Companies like Aveda, Estée Lauder, L’Oréal, Lush, and Kiehl’s aren’t just making ‘green’ claims. They are going above and beyond to alter the DNA of their brands in order to cut down on their environmental impact.
Beauty and personal care companies are so quick to make these changes because their businesses could fail if they don’t. Consumers want healthy options for their health-conscious lifestyles, and this includes products they put in their bodies (foods and drinks) as well as products they put on their bodies (beauty and personal care products). Consumers want ethic and sustainable options for makeup, perfume, skincare, and body care.
Because of this, consumers are becoming more invested in beauty and personal care products that fit into their lifestyle. In order to succeed in these industries, companies are putting more focus on creating all-natural, organic, cruelty-free, environmentally-friendly products. Since there is so much emphasis placed on these product qualities, the packaging is expected to match. Today, you can find that most beauty and personal care products have green recycle symbols on them.
But the two industries are moving beyond recycling. With natural products and marketing to match, some companies are going fully sustainable. They are creating sustainable packaging through responsible production methods. The best part is that these companies are then able to tie their corporate responsibility directly to marketing their product.
Before, During, After
Any beauty or personal care company can become full sustainable, if they are willing to look beyond the end result: the product. That means that attention needs to be paid to every phase in a product’s lifecycle: production, purchase, disposal.
Companies must look at the entire product supply chain to make sure that their packaging materials are being responsibly and sustainably sourced and manufactured in a way that has as little environmental impact as possible.
They also need to have some amount of control over what happens when consumers finish using a product. Companies have a responsibility to educate their consumers about how to get rid of products in the proper way. If products should be recycled in a specific way, that should be clear to consumers. If they know how to appropriately get rid of products, waste can be cut down. Companies must go above and beyond to ensure that they are taking every step necessary to protect the environment.
As for the product packaging itself, there are more responsible options being created every day. Innovation is in high gear and is changing the way we look at ordinary packaging and materials to make it. Right now, the options for sustainable packaging are:
Sustainable paper packaging is economical and can be made from renewably forested trees, recycled materials, or post-consumer waste. Paper packaging has less of an environmental footprint and can even be made ‘greener’ with sustainable printing practices. Many brands are already using paper in sustainable ways:
- TerraCycle uses all the leftover paper scraps from the printing labels of Tom’s of Maine Products to create tote bags.
- Chicago Paper Tube & Can Company uses paper and water-based glue to create packages that are 100% recyclable. Their paper packaging replaces plastic packaging for beauty and personal care products like lip balms, sunscreens, and solid perfumes. The paper can be fully custom-printed for versatility.
Need more paper options? Take a look at our other article for more alternative paper sources.
For beauty and perfume brands, glass is a good environmental option. It can be recycled, repurposed, and reused very easily.
- SDG has created two different types of eco-friendly glass. Their Neo Glass is made from 90% recycled material while their Infinite Glass is made from 100% recycled material. They continue to innovate to make their glass brighter and clearer to increase aesthetics.
With so much plastic waste, there is massive potential for recycled plastic materials. Along with recycled plastics, bioplastics are also an environmentally-friendly option. Bioplastics are plastics made from renewable sources or food crops such as cornstarch, vegetable oil, pea starch, or microbiota. These two options are so important because they replace ‘virgin’ plastic and do not rely on limited fossil fuels as resources. Some companies innovating with plastic are:
- Earth Renewable Technologies recently debuted their EarthBottle. The EarthBottle is made from plant and mineral materials and it is functional for lots of different products. It can be made in any shape or size, any color, and can have a paper or printed label. Companies can also choose whether or not they want their packaging to include a cap. The EarthBottle is a very big development for the beauty and personal care industries.
- SKS Bottle & Packaging have 5 packaging options for brands – paperboard, glass, post-consumer resin, (plastic made up of a blend of recycled resins), plastic made from 100% recycled material, and plastic made entirely from corn or sugarcane. They offer many different types of jars and tubes, so they are especially popular with beauty companies.
- Quadpack reduced the thickness of their plastic jars to cut down on materials use. They also allow their customers to choose what percent of recycled material is used to make their packaging. Much of the recycled material is made from old water bottles.
- Essel Propack creates their plastic cosmetic tubes made from Green Maple Leaf plastic that is 100% recyclable.
Looking for more alternatives to plastic? Check out our other article that dives more deeply into alternative sources.
Wood packaging is growing trend because it clearly communicates natural qualities to consumers. There are many different options of cuts, stains, finishes, and engravings so the options are limitless. It is especially popular for makeup and perfume brands for its look, warmth, and lightness.
Wood is more environmentally friendly than synthetic materials because its biodegradable and can be recycled into new things. Like paper, it is a completely renewable resource as long as it comes from responsible and sustainable forestry.
- Technotraf is a company that specializes in wood packaging. Their wood comes from sustainable forests in Europe and they have six options to choose from: ash, beech, pine, maple, oak, and sapele.
Are you looking for other options besides wood, like stone, shells or mushrooms? See our other article on this topic for more ideas.
Companies might be so focused on the sustainability of the packaging material that they don’t even think of the labeling. Believe it or not, labeling can have a huge impact on the sustainability of a product. Creating and printing labels takes resources like water and energy, and the process produces gas and solid waste. Some labels also affect the recyclability of the packaging once they are bound together.
There is good news though. Along with packaging innovation, specialty inks and coatings are being developed that reduce environmental impact. Even just creating thinner, smaller labels can significantly reduce a company’s environmental footprint.
The Future of Sustainability
Whether it’s because of consumer demand or environmental crisis, brands are paying attention to sustainability. Regardless of the reason, we all benefit from this change. There is an undoubtedly bright future for sustainable packaging, as environmental concern doesn’t seem to be a waning trend.