A compromise to be found around the 3Rs
Initiatives to reduce the environmental footprint of beauty packaging have been numerous in recent years and can be summarized around the famous 3Rs: Reduce, Reuse, Recycle. Clean beauty brands are very attentive to this subject and some of them, such as Ren, have the objective of producing zero waste by 2021. Ren uses bottles made from oceanic plastic, tubes made from post-consumer recycled plastic (PCR) and designed to help circular recycling. Nevertheless, as Gérald Martines, founder of the consulting agency IN.SIGNES, explained during the MAD Cosmetics Innovation day on 27/02/2020, "In theory, all plastics are recyclable but there must be a channel for this otherwise waste is generated. Other materials such as ABS, bakelite, zamac, resin are also theoretically recyclable but as there is no existing channel to date, it is not possible. Hybrid materials that sometimes convey a nice eco-responsible image can be misleading because they are neither recyclable nor biodegradable. This is the case, for example, of a wooden bonnet in which a plastic element is inserted for sealing". And the difficulty is to have these flows of harvesting, transformation and introduction in a new cycle knowing that with each passage, the quality of the material decreases and the possible applications are then different. From a glass bottle perfectly transparent for a perfume, several cycles are required to reach glass used for opaque bottles for mass consumption.
Bio-materials a potential to explore
Bio-sourced materials (green PE, green PP, green PET, etc.) are a solution with a carbon footprint 4 times smaller than that of the same material made from petroleum. However, their use is not yet widespread. Out of 300 billion tons of plastic consumed per year, only 1% is not petroleum-based. Cellulose, according to Gérald Martines, also has potential even if the market is not yet mature. Albéa (2) in partnership with L'Oréal has developed the 1st cardboard-based cosmetic tube which should arrive on the market in 2020. Stora Enso (3) presented at Luxe Pack 2019 a prototype tube made of 70% cardboard. At Sulapac (4), wood chips combined with natural binders are used to make biodegradable jars.
The Cozie company (5) is experimenting another solution to limit packaging by offering the 1st brand of organic cosmetics made in France in returnable glass bottles that can be reused for life. The young company has developed a specific machine called "the dosing machine" which allows customers to come to the store to refill their products. And in a spirit of fraternity, the patented machine is offered as a white label to the cosmetics industry who would like to develop refillable products in their turn. Clean beauty is also a state of mind, and that is certainly what will allow it to not just stay at the trend stage to have a long-term impact on the way cosmetics are consumed.
Written by Régine FRICK