Beauty brands reveal how they're hitting their circularity goals

By Julia Wray | Published: 28-Apr-2022

We discover major beauty players’ sustainability targets for packaging and the leaps forward in technology and design that are enabling these to be hit on, or even ahead of time

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Throwaway culture is having a damning impact on the environment and the situation is only getting worse.

According to the 2022 annual Circularity Gap Report, in the past few years, global circularity has actually wilted from 9.1% in 2018 to 8.6% today.

“In our current linear system, we take materials from the Earth, make products with them, and ultimately throw them away,” says a spokesperson for the Ellen MacArthur Foundation. “This system is reaching its limit.

“By contrast, a circular economy is an economic model which is driven by three principles, each underpinned by design: eliminating waste and pollution, circulating products and materials at their highest value and regenerating nature.

“It’s a model which builds a thriving system for all, as well as tackling major global challenges, such as climate change and biodiversity loss.”

And, while the circulation of resources can be applied to many aspects of the cosmetic lifecycle, there is an especially pressing need to minimise the impact of packaging, which risks becoming a discarded ‘shell’ once the product within has been used up.

“Our plastics system is broken,” observes the spokesperson. “We ‘take-make-waste’ and, as a result, millions of tonnes of plastic leak into the environment, end up in landfills or are burned. This is harming biodiversity, using up natural resources and contributing to the climate crisis, while billions of dollars’ worth of valuable materials are being lost to the economy.

“We cannot recycle our way out of this situation and cleaning up, burning, and burying waste do not solve the problem. We need to move to a circular economy for plastic, where we eliminate the plastic we don’t need; innovate to ensure that the plastics we do need are reusable, recyclable, or compostable; and we circulate everything we use.”

With this in mind, Cosmetics Business approached the biggest names in beauty and personal care to find out how their brands are addressing the all-important issue of circularity and packaging.

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