Smart materials: Making the most of sustainable packaging solutions

With the UK government announcing the introduction of a plastic tax from 2022, cosmetics brands are rallying to find sustainable materials that work for them

Sustainable packaging solutions are no longer simply about developing eco-friendly alternatives as a ploy for companies to boast about as part of their marketing strategy.

The technology, processing and manufacturing behind eco innovations means it has become a category in its own right and – given the cosmetics sector’s enormous reach across the sustainable packaging arena – beauty is fast becoming one of the front-runners in developing these new methods. 

Etienne Gruyez, CEO and Head of Perfumery and Cosmetics at Stoelzle Masnières, France, tells Cosmetics Business that it is not enough for beauty brands to simply say they’ve ditched plastic. 

“Consumers want to know the supply chain process, where the products are sourced and if the manufacturing process is just as detrimental to the environment,” he says.

In 2020, the industry is witnessing an influx of alternatives to excite the sector. Colgate launched its first-ever recyclable tube; cosmetic applicators specialist Cosmogen is toying with the concept of glue-free make-up brushes; and Quadpack is poised to introduce its Nordic Collection jars, featuring compostable wood and biopolymers-based materials. 

Meanwhile, researchers from Heriot-Watt University in Edinburgh, UK, have developed a new type of biodegradable packaging using polylactic acid and antioxidant rosemary extract, which is designed to protect and preserve the cosmetic products it hosts.

However, sustainability often comes with the stigma that it’s a compromise – that brands must be prepared to reduce the quality of their products as alternatives are unable to compete with their traditional counterparts. 

So, as pressure mounts from consumers and governments, what are the alternatives for beauty brands? 

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