Sachet away: The next plastic phase out

With environmental groups having tackled the issue of plastic straws and Q-tips, next in their sights is the single-use sachet. So what other options are out there for cosmetics companies?

The clock is ticking for single use plastics. In England, the sale and distribution of single-use straws and Q-tips (or cotton buds) made of plastic has been banned since 1 October 2020.

However, there is one culprit that has yet to be targeted and it is a format which has long been a staple of the cosmetics industry: the single-use sachet.

But that might be about to change.

In November 2020, environmental group A Plastic Planet wrote an open letter to UK and EU officials calling for a ban on single-use beauty sample sachets.

“Current estimates state the personal care industry produces 122 billion plastic sachets each year, but this likely isn’t the full picture,” says beauty entrepreneur Sian Sutherland, who is co-founder of A Plastic Planet. “Placed end to end, that number alone is equivalent to 27 trips from the earth to the moon.

“Sachets are usually made from a plastic-metal laminate composition,” she adds. “This combination of materials makes them virtually impossible to recycle.

“In the beauty and personal care industry they’re often used to contain samples of products to drive sales, including shampoo, soap, wipes, lotions, perfume, conditioner and moisturisers – meaning they’re used just once before they’re disposed of, destined for landfill or the natural environment.”

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