The Beauty Industry Takes a Step Toward Sustainability

The Beauty Industry Takes a Step Toward Sustainability
The Beauty Industry Takes a Step Toward Sustainability

The move towards sustainable packaging for beauty products (and sustainable sourcing of materials in general) is not only about meeting regulatory requirements. It has also become a major demand growth area among consumers, who have come to expect their favorite beauty brands to do the right thing.

Renewable resources for packaging are nothing new, with a long list of fully recyclable and reusable materials having been used by manufacturers for decades. Though it is only as of late that consumers have been showing a strong preference for beauty brands that demonstrate a genuine commitment to environmental concerns.

More specifically, those who adhere to the ‘5 Rs’ approach to sustainable and renewable packaging – Refuse, Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, Rot (as outlined by zerowasteexchange.org).

Even so, what it actually means to be ‘sustainable’ is something that differs in the minds of one person and business to the next. For some, transition into more sustainable practices simply means using more recyclable materials. For others, it is also about the environmental impact of the manufacturing process required to produce the materials in the first place.

Either way, transparency has become a key driver of customer relationships and brand authority in the cosmetics sector. Rather than sitting silently on the sidelines, more major beauty brands than ever before are speaking out about important environmental issues.

Not to mention, outlining their own roadmaps to sustainability – however, they may define the term in-house. 

Pioneers of Sustainable Packaging

Innovative manufacturers like DTS Europe are already leading the charge for a more sustainable future for the sector. Creator of the unique mono-material airless system for cosmetic packaging, DTS Europe offers an eco-friendly solution that goes beyond anything currently available on the market.

Just a few examples of the company’s mono-material packaging solutions include:

  • 100% recyclable materials for zero waste
  • Materials do not need to be disassembled to be recycled
  • The benefits of airless and sustainability in one solution
  • Lightweight and exceptionally durable
  • Minimal energy consumption to manufacture the material
  • A proven contribution to a circular economy

According to DTS, it is the growing availability of affordable sustainable packaging that will continue to fuel the transition to a more sustainable sector.  Technological advancements are enabling the development of materials with the lowest possible carbon footprint and simplified recycling with near-total efficiency.

The Age of Refillable Cosmetics

Elsewhere, the events of the past 18 months have completely changed the way the world approaches the purchase and replacement of cosmetics. Particularly with respect to refillable cosmetics, consumers are expecting the brands they do business with to demonstrate commitment to responsible evolution. 

Speaking on behalf of UK-based Echo Brand Design, founder and managing director, Nick Dormon, said that a shift towards reuse, as opposed to recycling, was already well underway. 

“Consumers have to adapt to new behaviors of beauty consumption. Today’s consumer expects so much more when it comes to convenience—personalization as well as sustainability. A new wave of products is beginning to launch designed with a refill in mind,” he said. 

“These solutions not only prevent excessive packaging waste but are creating new opportunities for a more personalized and inclusive solution.”

He went on to comment on how the pre-pandemic norm was to buy beauty products from traditional stores, which today has transitioned to a more online-dominant sector than ever before. 

“Unsurprisingly, today online revenues for beauty-industry players have risen 20-30%. The pandemic has nudged our beauty purchasing habits online and therefore the role of packaging has evolved,” he says. 

“Sustainable refills may capture our desire for a more personalized and streamlined solution and packaging becomes part of a subscription model, much like Nespresso with their variety of coffee pods,”

“The common critique around beauty is that you are spending more on the packaging than the actual product. With this new method of delivery, customers will see greater value in refills with the durable device a one-off upfront cost.”

New Legislation for Standardisation

As things stand, there is currently nothing close to an agreed international standard regarding future packaging restrictions or legislation. Most countries have not even drafted policy on a domestic level, though some nations like the UK are expected to lead the campaign for positive change.

In April 2022, a new plastic packaging tax will be enforced in the UK, which will ultimately prove a major “catalyst for positive change in this direction [reusable, refillable packaging],” says Nick Vaus, partner & creative director at Free the Birds.

Vaus went on to again emphasize the importance of not only transitioning to more sustainable company policies but also ensuring total transparency with any given target market.

“The crucial point is that beauty brands not only need to embrace sustainable practices like biodegradable packaging and organic ingredients, they also need to be transparent about their efforts and help educate consumers on how to take care of the packaging after use to create a genuine, long-term impact on the sustainability agenda,” he said. 

The importance of sustainability for today’s consumer was recently illustrated in a Pull Agency study, which found that at least 40% of younger adults prefer health and beauty brands that are sustainable, with around 30% of consumers across all groups actively seeking sustainable cosmetics.

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