Research and consulting firmOrganic Monitor
will host its second edition of the Latin American Sustainable Cosmetics Summit
September 18-20 in Sao Paulo. Sustainable packaging is a focal theme of this event and also at its European edition this fall. Discussion topics include environmental impact of packaging, eco-design innovations, novel packaging materials, bio-plastics in cosmetics, and green packaging success stories.
In spite of the increased industry preoccupation with its carbon footprint, few steps have been made to tackle the environmental impact of packaging, acknowledges Organic Monitor, organizer of Sustainable Cosmetics Summits in Paris, New York and Hong Kong. In a recent release the London based firm stated, “relatively few developments are occurring in packaging materials. Although some cosmetic brands are experimenting with sustainable materials like bamboo and wood, plastic packaging still prevails. High raw material costs and inadequate waste disposal methods give plastic packaging a very high environmental footprint”. According to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD)
packaging comprises over half of all household waste in developed countries, with plastics having most negative effect on landfill.
, a leading natural cosmetics firm recently launched its mass market SOU brand, which epitomises the packaging trend. “SOU skin care products are housed in flexible packaging that have 70% less plastic than rigid plastic containers of the same volume”.
Plant-based plastics, once hailed because of their biodegradable nature, have yet to make headway in cosmetic applications. Large firms like Procter & Gamble
are using hybrid polymers sourced from sugar cane to overcome the limitations of bioplastics; and Unilever is one of the few companies considering a packaging overhaul to address its environmental footprint. This year the company introduced a new ‘compressed’ can for a number of its deodorant brands, to reduce the costs of packaging material and transportation.
There is an urgent need and room for more radical innovation not only in the content of product formulations, but in product presentation to reduce the carbon footprint of cosmetics, no matter how natural and organic they claim to be.
“There are also calls for the cosmetics industry to take some responsibility for waste management. The Brazilian cosmetics association ABIHPEC
is working with municipal agencies to collect and recycle packaging waste”, highlights Organic Monitor. “In the USA, Tom’s of Maine has partnered with Terracycle to collect its packaging waste and use it in new product applications. Smart cradle-to-cradle systems where waste is used as raw material are considered the best way forward for many cosmetic brands on the green road.
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