Sustainability is key to reducing the environmental impact of packaging.

Sustainability is key to reducing the environmental impact of packaging.

by Shanice Ngina

What is sustainability? It is a way of looking at the environment, often applied to countries and products. This concept can be applied to the packaging for beauty, home, personal care, and even food products. It is not specific to any one brand or country but can be viewed as a way of thinking about the environment.

Sustainability continues to shape beauty, home, and personal care packaging. The industry is among many around the world that are made more ecologically friendly, and for those consumers who care about the topic of sustainability, focusing on the beauty and personal care packaging industry is important if it helps in redistributing our dependence on plastic products. Strong trends are emerging in this regard, including advanced technologies that minimize the environmental impact of conventional packages, such as refillable bottles.

Sustainability has been something of a buzzword in recent years. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) coined the term in 2005 and its meaning has evolved. In 2006 they used a traditional definition: "the long-term goal of achieving environmentally friendly practices". Another definition says that it is "the ability to meet needs within the confines of an environmental system without compromising life or property." Since then the EPA has modified its definition to include sustainability in their everyday meaning: "the ability to provide (or continue providing) goods and services within an ecological context".

Why are many Brands not able to pursue sustainability?

Many brands are choosing not to pursue sustainability goals out of financial considerations alone—they are protecting themselves against lawsuits by remaining on shelves as long as possible—but also because they want their customers to look past cost considerations and make purchases out of faith that they are doing this for their health and safety. A brand’s higher price tag may also be an important part of its sustainability marketing campaign; however, some brands have found that including recycled content into their product design can help consumers see products as being more sustainable than non-recycled equivalents.

Sustainability is a key driver of packaging innovation in the beauty, personal care, and home industries.

There’s a lot of talk about sustainability in the beauty, personal care, and home industries. But how does this translate into the packaging industry?

According to data from the Packaging Council, in January 2018, only 1% of all plastic packaging consumed by consumers was recycled.

This may not seem like a big deal — after all, recycling is a global industry. But take a closer look at the numbers. According to Packaging Council data, just 1% of all plastic packaging consumed by consumers was recycled in 2017. Of that 1%, just 0.8% went to recycling facilities and 0.1% ended up in landfill or incinerator sites (the remaining 5.2% were shipped out as other end-of-life products).

One of the world's biggest makers of personal care products (Johnson & Johnson) has turned to technology to help them achieve their goal: by using paperboard (pasted paper) instead of cardboard for their product packaging. In terms of impact on planet earth, it is clear that more needs to be done!

Recycling programs are becoming more popular among brands.

Recycling programs are becoming more popular among brands. The most common idea behind them is a way to take all of your plastic waste and turn it into a new product or accessory.

It may sound like a lofty goal, but in reality, recycling programs have been successful in helping to reduce the amount of plastic waste that ends up in our oceans, landfills, and garbage dumps around the globe.

At first glance, it seems like this might be a great way to reduce your footprint, but you need to be careful that it doesn't come off as more eco-friendly than necessary. It's easy to assume that recycling is just an easier way to reduce waste and don't mind paying for a product without its packaging, but not all products are created equal and one brand may have a better value proposition than another. Another issue is that some companies only recycle what they can reuse or remanufacture themselves, so there is no guarantee that this will help you with your environmental footprint.

The good news is that there are still many ways you can reduce your ecological footprint while still being profitable – especially if you make products with high enough quality standards; if you reuse materials already used in other applications; if you look at recycled products as an opportunity for growth by replacing less-reusable materials with new ones; or if you ask customers what they would use these materials for (i.e. exploring how they use their packaging). If you can do all of these things, then recycling programs won't hurt your bottom line as much as they will help it.

Can Packaging programs help brands reduce their environmental impact?

The end of the plastic bottle? Here’s a bit of good news: it seems we may not have to wait for the end to see a change in the way products are packaged. That is, at least for those that make plastic packaging. A new study has found that packaging labels and product codes can help reduce the environmental impact of packaging products, as long as that packaging is made from recyclable materials.

Brands ditching plastics as a way of reducing environmental impact.

Today, ethical and sustainable packaging is still a hot topic in the beauty and personal care industry. As a result, many companies are embracing the idea to reduce their overall impact on the environment by ditching plastic bottles and replacing them with refillable products. For instance, Lush has designed its refillable products using recyclable materials such as glass, paper, and bamboo.

However, brands such as Lush prove that this isn’t easy for them; but it is a necessary step for their business. With the right backing from investors and brands to work together—like Dow Chemical Company did with its DuPont Ethical Consumer™ program—companies like Lush can take big steps towards environmental sustainability while making their products feel good to use too.

For example, when you use your product at home or outdoors, you don't want to feel like you are using plastic. So if you want to reduce your impact on the environment as well as on your customers' lives, try to make refillable products more readily available at stores where you shop (and maybe even go back to buying them there).

The Rise of Refillable Products.

In the last 12 months, the refillable products category has grown by 5x to $5B in value. The majority of this growth can be attributed to the rise of zero waste initiatives like Zero Waste World, which is encouraging consumers to start thinking about how they can reduce their impact on the environment.

Consumers are also demanding more convenience and functionality over a traditional refillable container. This is particularly true for those who want their product refilled or re-used multiple times before it is thrown away.

A high-quality refillable container can be defined as a bottle, a sprayer, or even a spray cap that is both washable and reusable. Today, there are two primary types of refillable containers: airless containers (air bubble/drip) and airless containers (airless).

Airless containers come in two different sizes: small-sized and large-sized. The small-sized ones are typically used for personal care products such as shampoo and body wash, while large-sized ones are typically used for food products such as body butter or soap.

Why biodegradable packaging can be problematic.

Some ‘sustainable’ packaging also falls foul of a lack of recycling or composting infrastructure. So, even if cosmetics or other products are shipped in biodegradable or recyclable containers, you might not be able to compost them at home, your local recycling center might not accept them, or municipal composting facilities may be unavailable. When this is the case, even the most eco-friendly packaging can just end up in a landfill.


There is nothing like a perfect packaging solution. The goal is to make sure we invest in the gradual and constant improvement of a packaging solution. Above all, one thing is clear, we must find a solution that will help reduce the environmental impact brought about by the currently available options. To find this solution, we must have the following considerations in mind:

First, the material should be organic and biodegradable. This will help prevent a permanent impact on the environment. Secondly, packages could be made easy to recycle or reuse. Lastly, running a package sustainability audit will help you understand the lifecycle of your packaging material and in the process help improve the overall packaging process.

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