What Is Sustainable Cosmetic Packaging?

9 Mins read

What is sustainable cosmetic packaging?

It’s the next big thing in the beauty industry, and on the cutting edge of green technologies in product development.

But what does it mean and why is sustainable packaging better?

What Is Sustainable Cosmetic Packaging?

Sustainable cosmetic packaging is a design or material that has been developed to meet certain environmentally friendly standards. The purpose of these sustainable packaging designs is to reduce the amount of waste going into landfills as well as to lower the use of energy and resources required for production.

Not only does sustainable packaging benefit the environment, but it also benefits your business by reducing costs associated with raw materials and disposal.

The key characteristics of sustainable packaging are:

  • Utilizing recyclable materials
  • Reusing existing packaging instead of creating new ones
  • Reducing waste by using less material in the production process

Why Does Sustainability Matter for the Cosmetics Industry?

You may not think much about it, but sustainability is a key issue in the cosmetics industry. Increased awareness of environmental issues has led consumers to demand more eco-friendly products and packaging.

Customers are now willing to pay more for sustainable products.

The cosmetic industry has begun making efforts to reduce its impact on the environment by creating new and improved biodegradable packaging alternatives.

And if customers aren’t already asking for these green options, they will soon; as we’ll see, the race is on among major brands to meet this emerging demand.

What Are the Main Types of Cosmetic Packaging?

Cosmetic packaging can take many forms depending on the product, whether it’s a lotion, powder, or liquid.

The most common types of cosmetic packaging include:

1. Tubes

Tubes are ideal for products that are typically thicker such as shampoo, conditioner, and toothpaste.

They can be made of plastic or metal, with aluminum being easily recycled and widely available.

2. Bottles

Bottles are also widely used in cosmetics as they come in different shapes, sizes, and materials to suit a range of products including moisturizers, cleansers, and toners.

Plastic bottles are often used because they’re lightweight but can also be made from glass as well as other materials like bamboo or porcelain.

3. Jars

Jars are commonly used for creams, gels, and makeup such as face masks and lip balms.

Typically made from glass or plastic (like PET), jars can come in many sizes to hold different amounts of the product depending on the need.

4. Pouches/pouches

Pouches contain the same kinds of products that would otherwise be packaged in bottles or jars but provide a more sustainable option since they are lightweight and easier to ship than glass containers which save money on fuel costs during transportation.

Pouches also reduce plastic waste by allowing consumers to dispense only what they need without having to open an entire bottle at once when there might not be enough left inside anyway (i-e you).

After opening one pouch into another container instead of just throwing out whatever amount remains inside after use will save time later down the road if someone else happens upon some old containers filled with leftover liquids that aren’t even good anymore!

Plus it’s more convenient when making small batches so it’s a win all around 🙂

How Can You Make Your Cosmetic Packaging Eco-friendly?

As a consumer, you can help reduce the waste created by cosmetic packaging.

Buying products in paper, cardboard, or glass containers instead of plastic is a great first step.

To further minimize your impact, look for products packaged in recycled materials and more permanent and reusable packaging.

Of course, as a manufacturer or retailer, you also have options for reducing your carbon footprint with eco-friendly cosmetic packaging practices.

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Here are some to consider:

  • Use sustainable materials like bamboo or hemp
  • Choose biodegradable materials such as PLA plastics instead of petroleum-based plastics that never decompose
  • Use recyclable materials like aluminum bottles and tin containers whenever possible
  • Consider compostable cosmetic packaging made from cornstarch or sugarcane that naturally breaks down over time
  • Choose refillable packaging for large items like shampoo dispensers and moisturizer jars

How to Tell if Your Cosmetic Packaging Is Sustainable

If you’re shopping for sustainable cosmetic packaging, there are a few things to keep in mind:

Look for the words “biodegradable,” “recyclable” and “sustainable” on the package

These terms will tell you whether or not your cosmetics were made with eco-friendly materials.

Check out the packaging materials used

Avoid plastics and polystyrenes, which are notoriously difficult to recycle, and instead look for glass, aluminum, and paperboard containers; they’re all recyclable!

If a cosmetic product has more than one component in its packaging (e.g. a lipstick tube with a separate cap), each piece should be marked with a recycling symbol so that it can be sorted correctly at recycling facilities.

Get in touch with your manufacturer or supplier

Get in touch with your manufacturer or supplier to see if they use sustainable materials in their cosmetics packaging.

It’s important that your supplier understands what’s required by labeling laws so they can help you comply with those regulations when producing your products.

Why Should You Use Sustainable Cosmetic Packaging Over a Traditional One?

The main reason for using sustainable cosmetic packaging is that it is more sustainable than traditional packaging.

If you’re a consumer, being able to buy a product that comes in packaging that causes no harm to the environment can make you feel good about your purchase.

If you’re a company, having sustainable cosmetic packaging shows your customers that you care about the planet, which could be great for your brand image.

Of course, this isn’t the only reason why companies choose to use sustainable cosmetic packaging.

It can also reduce their carbon footprint and help them save money in the long-term thanks to being more cost-effective.

Not only do they last longer with minimal maintenance required over time, but they can also be used to help companies attract new customers as well as maintain their existing customer base through better marketing opportunities due to increased brand exposure.

They are also much better for our environment and society because they don’t require any toxic chemicals or raw materials like plastics do — which not only means less pollution but also healthier living conditions!

And finally, they look better too – so if you’re going out on date night with someone special?

These eco-friendly options will ensure that there’s no need for paper towels when eating food from these biodegradable containers

Is Sustainable Cosmetic Packaging Durable?

The short answer is yes! When one thinks about sustainable cosmetic packaging, the first thing that comes to mind is often materials like glass and steel.

These materials are known for being firm and solid, not easily damaged, and resistant to wear and tear.

In other words, they are durable. They can be used for a long time.

Will Sustainable Cosmetics Biodegrade Easily?

Chances are that if you’re using sustainable cosmetics, you’re using biodegradable materials.

But it’s also important to note that there’s a difference between biodegradable and compostable materials.

Biodegradable materials can easily decompose in natural environments, leaving behind only natural substances such as water and carbon dioxide.

Compostable products, on the other hand, are specifically designed for use in commercial composting facilities.

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To qualify as compostable, a product must meet strict standards for how long it takes to break down under specific conditions (such as temperature and humidity).

Can Sustainable Cosmetic Packaging Be Recycled?

Sustainable packaging is, despite the name, not always recyclable.

However, if you pay attention to what type of materials are going into the makeup tubes and pots, you may be able to recycle some of your empty containers.

The number one rule of recycling is that it’s all about cleanliness.

Make sure to rinse out your empties before dropping them in the recycling bin—otherwise, they’ll end up in the trash anyway.

You can recycle plastic bottles and containers with the numbers 1-7 on their bottom.

Glass bottles are also generally recyclable; plastic lids can go in the bin as well but metal lids must be removed beforehand or they will jam up the machines at the recycling plant.

Paperboard boxes like those that hold paper towels are recyclable too!

But there are some items you can’t recycle. If an item has a shiny coating or waxed paper, it’s not recyclable.

In addition to removing metal lids, make sure any peel-off stickers come off any items you’re planning on recycling.

And while it may seem obvious that dirty diapers don’t belong in your recycling bin (we hope), coffee grounds or food waste shouldn’t go there either.

How Much Does It Cost to Have Sustainable Cosmetics Packaging?

Sustainable packaging for cosmetic products can be more affordable than you would think. The cost depends on the type of packaging you choose.

In some cases, reusable options are more expensive than single-use alternatives when you consider the initial investment.

However, many sustainable options may be cheaper due to the cost of materials and production.

The cost of sustainable packaging is not always higher than the price of traditional packaging; it just depends on what you want to invest in.

In some cases, reusable options are more expensive than single-use alternatives when you consider their initial investment.

However, many sustainable options may be cheaper due to the low cost of materials and production needed to make them

Can Reusable Packaging Be Used in Cosmetics?

Reusable cosmetic packaging is possible. It’s more expensive than single-use packaging, but there are ways to make it affordable.

In the past, reusable packages were associated with natural cosmetics, but they can also be used for synthetic products.

For example, a refillable mascara tube can be made of aluminum and refilled as many times as necessary by simply replacing the mascara wand inside.

Think about it:

How many plastic bottles have you thrown away in your life?

Most of us don’t keep track of that number because we don’t have to, and we are not even aware of all the problems plastic waste causes for our planet (or how much money we spend on disposable cosmetics).

If you begin to think about sustainable packaging as a way to save money in the long run and change things in your community, more people will be inspired to join you in making this world a better place!

Do All Sustainable Cosmetic Products Have to Be Plastic-free?

While sustainable packaging can be plastic-free, this isn’t necessarily a requirement. In fact, packaging made from responsibly sourced or recycled plastics can be better for the environment than paper.

The key is that whatever materials are used, it has to be possible for them to go back into the production cycle at the end of their life.

SEE ALSO:  How to Make Skincare Packaging More Sustainable

There are some other important factors too:

  • Look for: Sustainable cosmetic packaging that uses no plastic at all (like recyclable cardboard).
  • Look for: Packaging that’s made from a low environmental impact plastic like polyethylene terephthalate (PET) and high-density polyethylene (HDPE). These two types of plastic are widely recycled and have been shown to have a less environmental impact than other plastics.
  • Look for: Plastic packaging which can be reused or repurposed by you after use—for example, in refill pods or bottles.
  • Look for: The “green dot” logo which indicates that the product is widely recyclable across Europe.
  • Look further into products with “recycled” written on them—some will have only a small percentage of post-consumer recycled content while others will have much more.

Are There Any Regulations Around the Use of Recyclable or Reusable Materials in Cosmetics and Personal Care Products?

Regulations for the cosmetic industry are different in every country.

In Canada, Health Canada has a Cosmetic Regulations section of the website that lists what ingredients and packaging materials can be used in cosmetics.

In the US, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is responsible for overseeing safety standards and regulations.

However, they have no authority to approve cosmetic products or ingredients before they go on the market (with a few exceptions).

The European Union has some of the most stringent regulations regarding safe packaging materials.

They have banned several chemicals regularly used in cosmetics, including microbeads (which are tiny plastic beads commonly found in exfoliating products).

The EU also prohibits companies from using certain heavy metals and carcinogens as additives or preservatives.

This includes lead acetate, mercury compounds, and formaldehyde-releasing preservatives.

Finally, there are two key pieces of legislation regulating chemical substances in the EU: REACH (Registration Evaluation Authorization of Chemicals), which regulates any chemical substance produced or imported into Europe; and CLP (Classification Labelling and Packaging), which aims to ensure that suppliers label hazardous mixtures correctly so consumers can take precautions when using them.

What Are the Minimum Standards for Beauty Packaging?

The minimum standards for sustainable packaging are that it be reusable, recyclable, and made from post-consumer recycled materials.

Because there is no single definition of sustainable packaging, you can have a lot of fun customizing your strategy to best fit your product line!

On the other hand, if you’re new to this concept or don’t have the resources to spend on an in-depth study right now, these three basic things will get you started.

First and foremost:

Make sure your packaging is recyclable. Recycling can be done at home with your regular recycling bin or through a curbside pickup program.

Alternatively, many stores also offer in-store collection programs or take-back programs for products purchased in their stores.


Make sure that your packaging can be reused by either yourself (i.e., refilling empty bottles) or by others (i.e., repurposing used aluminum cans).

If you’re selling a beauty product in spray bottles that aren’t meant to be refilled by customers themselves, consider offering a bottle return program where customers bring them back to the store and exchange them for fresh ones at a discount.

Not only does this keep more plastic out of landfills—but it also lets people feel good about making a positive difference for the environment!

Final Thoughts

So, what exactly is sustainable packaging? The answer isn’t quite a bright line.

In some cases, it can be just as arbitrary as “natural” beauty packaging.

However, the general consensus seems to be that sustainable cosmetics packaging should be reusable and made out of environmentally-friendly materials like organic cotton fiber, paper pulp, and even corn sachets.