Sustainability in the Beauty Industry – 2019 Update

Thanks to widely popular programs like the BBC’s Blue Planet, we are more aware than ever about the impact that the amount of plastic we use is having on the planet. With zero-waste lifestyles becoming more aspirational, people are actively trying to reduce the amount of plastic they use day to day, including the products they use in their skincare regimes, in an effort to reduce the negative effect they have on the environment.

2018 saw an industry-wide ban on microbeads and already in 2019, we’re seeing innovative new cosmetics including packaging free shower jelly from Lushand shampoo bars from The Natural Soap Company. The past year has set the wheels in motion and throughout 2019 we can expect to see more beauty companies adopting waste reduction strategies. For instance, as well as their packaging free shower jelly, Lush have created a whole range of “naked” products from shampoo to body scrubs and deodorant bars and even makeup products that are entirely free from packaging.

We’re also seeing recycled plastic packaging and refillable glass and metal containers being widely introduced by cosmetic companies, encouraging consumers to purchase refills. Even where it isn’t possible to use 100% recycled packaging, companies are opting to reduce the amount of virgin plastic they use, opting for 50% virgin and 50% recycled with pledges to decrease the amount of virgin plastic over time.

Sustainability in the beauty industry goes way beyond just packaging and includes the whole production process from sourcing to formula creation. In addition to the #passonplastic campaign, comes the rise of #waterlessbeauty. As the industry’s most-used ingredient, there are concerns around the demand for water. Cosmetics giant L’Oréal has committed to a 60 per cent reduction in water consumption per finished product by 2020 (from a 2005 baseline), while Unilever is committing to halve the water associated with the consumer use of its products by 2020 (against a baseline of 2010).

As a product development company, we have a commitment to proactively reduce the number of virgin plastic products and packaging that we produce. Along with 250+ organisations we have signed up to New Plastics Economy Global Commitment to help eliminate plastic pollution at source. At the heart of the Global Commitment is a vision of a New Plastics Economy, where plastics never become waste. Each signatory formally endorses the vision and the need to work towards achieving it, committing to three actions to realise this vision, including:

  • Eliminate all problematic and unnecessary plastic items
  • Innovate to ensure that the plastics we do need are reusable, recyclable, or compostable
  • Circulate all the plastic items we use to keep them in the economy and out of the environment

You can read full details about the commitment and view the global commitment signatories on the New Plastics Economy website