#ConsciousCreative: Green & gorgeous… The innovative products bringing sustainability to the beauty industry

03 Feb 2021 | Culture

#ConsciousCreative: Green & gorgeous… The innovative products bringing sustainability to the beauty industry

By Danni VanDenBossche

The beauty industry is a constantly evolving global market, but for such a large industry, beauty companies often fall behind in their approach to sustainability.

Products that are difficult to recycle – such as pumps or applicators – are still wrapped up in single-use plastics. Incredibly, 95% of beauty packaging is thrown out after just one use, and only 14% of the plastic it’s composed from is recycled. Additionally, just 50% of UK consumers recycle their bathroom waste, compared to 90% of kitchen waste. Clearly, people are willing to make an effort and are trying to recycle more, but the beauty industry needs to do more to make it easier for them to do so.

But despite these worrying statistics, there are still companies out there using innovation and bold ideas to bring about change. Here are a few game-changing products that caught my eye this month:

Refillable products:

Whilst refillable deodorant isn’t a new product, it has been left to independent brands like Wild to lead the change in the industry. However, the product is now going mainstream thanks to the beauty brand Dove, who are taking the refillable product to the US high street.

The new deodorant is packaged in a slick white, stainless steel container with the plastic components made from 98% recycled materials. Refillable cartridges are affordable to purchase and easy to change, so you can simply top up the deodorant without creating as much waste.

Whilst it is still important to support independent and local brands, I love that sustainable packaging is becoming easily available to people who might not have previously known (or cared) about it.

Waterless formulations:

Shampoo and conditioner are some of the most purchased beauty items, usually coming in large, hard-to-recycle plastic bottles. Alternative solid products such as shampoo bars are becoming more popular, but Canadian brand Everest have gone one step further and created a paste that’s activated by wet hands.

Normal shampoo & conditioner usually consists of 70% water, so by removing it, Everest have produced a product one-third the size of an average bottle. Not only does this make it more efficient to ship products worldwide, but their packaging: aluminium tubes with recycled cardboard and paper tape, is easy for consumers to recycle. As a shampoo bar user, I’m definitely excited to try a paste and see if it’s slightly less messy!

Recycling Systems:

How many times have you peered over the label on the back of a bottle, trying to find out how (or if) you can recycle the packaging? Different recycling schemes often make it hard to know if you can pop your plastic into your home recycling, or if you have to take it to a specialist recycling point.

To help make recycling easier, Unilever have partnered with Alibaba on an AI-powered recycling system they’ve called Waste-Free World. All you need to do is scan the QR code on the packaging, and the system identifies and sorts different kinds of plastic.

Not only does this save consumers the hassle of sorting out different plastics, they can also earn Unilever coupons and ‘green energy points’ every time they use the system and the plastic is reused in other Unilever products. The trial featured 20 machines across Shanghai and Hangzou, but with plans to roll out 500 machines in 2021, hopefully we’ll see them pop up in countries across the world soon!

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