How to Make Skincare Packaging More Sustainable

6 Mins read

This post shows you how to make your skincare packaging more sustainable so that it can last longer and help the environment on top of that.

Here are 8 tips on how to make skincare packaging more sustainable.

1. Reduce the plastic in your tubes and bottles

When I started selling my first handmade skincare products online, I became increasingly aware of how wasteful I had been when it came to packaging.

I started to feel bad about all the plastic bottles, tubes and jars piling up in the trash. Tubes, bottles and jars are handy because they keep your product safe from contamination (and keep contamination out of your product!)

Plastic is also cheap and easy to produce. But plastic is not a sustainable packaging material for a few reasons:

  • Plastic is non-biodegradable. It cannot break down naturally. Instead, it will persist in the environment indefinitely, leaching potentially harmful chemicals into the soil and water as it breaks down into smaller and smaller pieces.
  • Manufacturing plastics uses large quantities of fossil fuels. Oil is a limited resource that we need to keep in the ground if we want to avoid catastrophic climate change.
  • Plastic packaging ends up in landfills and oceans, where it can be eaten by animals who mistake it for food or get caught in it and starve to death. Making new plastic requires a lot of energy, so using less of it saves you money on utilities too!

2. Avoid using plastics marked 3 & 6

You might think that a natural product is better for the environment, but that doesn’t necessarily hold true. Take skincare products, for example. Many of them use plastic packaging and containers, which can be harmful to the environment.

To make your skincare more sustainable, check the labels on the containers. Avoid using plastics marked 3 and 6, which are not biodegradable. These plastics are found in many conventional beauty products marketed as “green.” Instead, opt for containers made from recycled materials or compostable containers made from renewable resources like corn instead of petroleum-based plastics.

If you’re wondering about an ingredient in your skincare products that isn’t listed on the label or packaging, contact the manufacturer to find out whether it’s safe for you and the environment.

When shopping in person, bring your own reusable containers to avoid buying single-use plastic containers with each purchase of skincare products.

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It may seem inconvenient at first, but carrying around reusable containers will soon become second nature and save you money in the long run by eliminating unnecessary waste.

3. Use at least 20% recycled content

A sustainable skincare brand needs to have a sustainable packaging strategy in place. At the moment, there is no regulation on what constitutes a minimum level of recycled content in cosmetic containers, so brands are free to be as creative as they want.

However, we believe that 20% recycled content is the bare minimum that any brand should aim for. The fact is that all cosmetic packaging is recyclable and the majority of it is currently being recycled.

However, only around 5-10% of it is actually being recycled into new cosmetic products, according to a report by Eco-Age Consulting. The rest ends up in landfill sites or incinerators. The reason for this low recycling rate is simply because there are far more effective ways to create new raw materials from old ones than by recycling plastics.

Recycling plastic creates something called “downcycled material” which means that the quality and appearance of the material have been reduced due to the recycling process. This downcycled material can then only be used for certain applications such as flooring and car parts, meaning it has little use in the cosmetics industry.

4. Skip on black and white labels

One of the easiest ways to make your skincare packaging more sustainable is by skipping on black and white labels. If you’re looking for a way to reduce your carbon footprint and save some money, keep reading. It’s estimated that US consumers use around 15 million tons of plastic each year.

These plastics can take up to 1,000 years to biodegrade in landfills. Additionally, the manufacturing process of these types of plastic releases harmful chemicals into the air and water, which can cause pollution and potentially lead to health issues for humans.

The good news is that there are plenty of alternatives to using black and white labels as well as other types of plastic packaging for your business’ skincare products, such as glass and aluminum containers.

Metal containers offer the added benefit of making your products look more professional than other packaging options. Plus, metal containers are very durable, so you’ll be able to use them for a long time without worrying about their quality.

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Metal containers will not only protect your products from being damaged during shipping but also prevent contaminants from entering your products.

Another great thing about metal containers is that they are recyclable, which means you can decrease the amount of waste in landfills.

5. Replace caps with easy-to-recycle tops

You may have heard that the biggest impact we can make when it comes to reusable packaging is to use less. But how can you reduce how much you’re using without affecting your results? Tropic Skincare decided to tackle the problem head-on by redesigning its bottles.

By removing the caps and replacing them with pump tops, they’ve created a design that is not only more sustainable but also creates less waste.

The brand has saved £5,000 a year on packaging costs and has cut its carbon footprint by 10%. It now uses six times fewer boxes than before – saving a further £10,000 – while still keeping its packaging stylish and eye-catching.

This environmentally friendly approach has meant that Tropic’s customers have responded positively to the changes, with one saying: “I love the new bottles! They’re so easy to recycle.”

6. Use biodegradable ingredients wherever possible

Recyclable, biodegradable, and sustainable are three popular buzzwords in the beauty industry. It’s important to remember that these environmental aspects of beauty products impact every part of the supply chain, from ingredients to packaging.

For starters, here’s a look at how biodegradable ingredients are incorporated into skincare packaging:

Biodegradable ingredients can be packaged in almost any type of container, although glass is preferred because it is completely recyclable. Recycling options for plastic containers vary based on the resin composition used.

However, most plastic containers are recyclable under curbside programs in cities throughout the United States and Europe. Biodegradable ingredients are usually selected with one of two types of degradation in mind – either aerobic or anaerobic – based on the application’s desired outcome.

Aerobic degradation refers to conditions where oxygen is present and a substance can be decomposed by microorganisms such as bacteria or fungi.

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For example, you may have seen yogurt containers in your local grocery store that contain “probiotic” cultures that make the product more palatable by breaking down lactose into lactic acid. This type of degradation is also seen in pantry items such as potato chips that turn brown when exposed to oxygen.

Here are a few biodegradable ingredients to look for when you’re considering the greenest option:

Carbomer (a stiffener). This ingredient is made from starch, which comes from corn and potatoes. It’s not biodegradable on its own, but once it’s added to water or oil, it’s fully degradable by microorganisms in soil. Cornstarch is used to thicken products like shampoo and conditioner; potato starch is used in some body washes and facial cleansers.

Chemical exfoliants. These ingredients literally “exfoliate” the outer layer of skin cells by removing them with acid or enzyme treatments. They’re not actually chemicals at all — they’re derived from natural sources like sugar cane and fruit enzymes.

7. Use 100% recycled or recyclable cartons and boxes

Many products come in different forms of packaging, including boxes and cartons. One way that you can ensure your skincare packaging is more sustainable is by choosing options that are made from recyclable materials.

Some companies use 100% recycled cartons, which means they use recycled paper pulp to create new cartons from scratch instead of cutting down trees.

Using this type of carton will reduce the amount of deforestation needed for your product’s packaging as well as reduce its carbon footprint during production. If there aren’t any 100% recycled options available, look for ones that are made from recyclable material instead.

This means that if a local recycling facility does not accept the packaging you want to use, it can be sent to a recycling center where it can be reused again.

Final Thoughts

There isn’t a simple fix to the problem of skincare packaging, as it’s not something that can be totally eliminated. However, there are some solutions that could make packaging more sustainable in the future.

Some of these solutions will likely seem like no-brainers to a lot of people, but here we are. Hopefully this skincare packaging guide will lead to more sustainable solutions moving forward.