This is the second part of our cosmetic packaging blog post where we are discussing the impact of cosmetic packaging on you - the end-user.
In the first part, we’ve covered user safety and product compatibility, in the second part will focus on packaging usability and design, environmental impact and last but not least - how the packaging affects the product price!
Let’s have a closer look...
Container usability and design
It’s an incredibly important thing to consider (and test) when choosing packaging for the skincare product. Apart from the esthetics, even the most beautiful container if not user friendly and adjusted to the formula, will not encourage you to use the product time after time.
Why does it matter?
If the product spills or isn’t comfortable to use - would you be looking forward to using it again? The packaging is part of your experience and should offer you a smooth and easy application rather than make you feel like you’re approaching a hedgehog.
We don’t recommend glass bottles for shower gels, shampoos or anything in large volumes that can easily slip out of your fingers and break on the bathroom floor (which could be also dangerous).
Sustainability and recyclability
This brings us to sustainability and recyclability of cosmetic containers, which I believe is as important as the product itself. As I mentioned in Part 1 of this post, anything made of mixed materials is not recyclable. This applies to most airless containers, pumps, and dropper pipettes. Even bamboo, when paired with plastic (for example jar lids), is not recyclable and will end up in the landfill. This is why we offer a 10% discount scheme on our dropper pipettes so that you can send them back to us and we’ll appropriately sterilise them so that they can be safely reused. Click here to find our more.
Deerieo Aurora rejuvenating oil serum with 1% bakuchiol, vitamins C&E and CoeznymeQ10 comes in two sizes (10ml and 5ml discovery size). Our recycling scheme applies to both of them.
Glass vs plastic vs aluminium
According to the UK Government report “UK Statistics on Waste” (19 March 2020)”, 70% of the packaging waste in the UK was either recycled or recovered, which is lower than the 71.4% achieved in 2016. The highest recycling rate achieved in 2017 was 79.0% for paper and cardboard, followed by 71.1% for metal (incl. aluminium) and 67.6% for glass. Plastic was at 46.2%. It means we recycle less than we used to!
What is the best environment-friendly material for cosmetic packaging?
Aluminium and cardboard have a great recyclability rate and are often used in some cosmetic packaging but aren’t suitable for all types of products as they will react with the formula (imagine a face cream in a cardboard tube?).
Let’s raise the glass…?
While glass has better recyclability rates than plastic and can be endlessly recycled without the loss of quality, the recycling and manufacturing process of glass is an energy-intensive sector, with high-temperature melting furnaces using fossil fuels to melt raw materials including sand and limestone. It requires a specific sand type from river beds and we currently use more of this resource than rivers can provide. Glass also has a high carbon footprint not only due to its production but also transportation, being a heavy material. The best thing we can do is to reuse and repurpose and then recycle glass containers.
What about plastic?
Let’s put aside single-use plastic and microplastics. They are to be eliminated, without any question. There are many types of plastic that are recyclable, most common PET/ PETE, HDPE, PVC and PP. As we could see, the recycling rate is lower than glass, partially because many plastic containers are not designed to be recyclable (hopefully this will change in the future). Interestingly, the recycling of plastic is far less resource-intensive than the recycling of glass and the material is lighter, therefore it generates lower CO2 emission and leads to significantly lower carbon footprint! Unfortunately, unlike glass, the plastic can’t be endlessly recycled without losing quality.
Recyclenow website offers useful and clear guidance on plastics recycling in the UK. Read more here.
Compostable and biopolymer packaging
Bioplastics and compostables offer high-quality packaging, are made of sustainable materials (sugarcane for example), have a lower carbon footprint and take less time to decompose than traditional plastic in a controlled environment. We love the idea and can’t wait for compostable packaging to enter the mainstream!
Our Secret Garden cleansing and exfoliating herbal face masks come in biodegradable packaging with PLA (biodegradable thermoplastic) lining. They can be recycled with paper waste, reused or incinerated.
At the moment only 0.5% of consumer packaging in the UK is made of compostable plastic and there is no efficient large scale infrastructure allowing for its appropriate disposal. In addition, they are inaccessible for small businesses as very few packaging suppliers offer biopolymer or compostable cosmetic packaging and even then, the minimum order quantity starts at 10K pieces (often 50K!), which is unachievable for the artisan manufacturers.
What does it mean for you?
It’s important to note that all compostable plastics are biodegradable, but not all biodegradable plastics are compostable. They also cannot be recycled with traditional recycling waste - bioplastics must be separated from conventional plastics otherwise they can contaminate the recycling batch and compromise the quality of the resulting recycled plastic.
Here is a brilliant source of information on bioplastics and their disposal by WRAP UK association - read more.
Labels also play a crucial role in container recyclability. They must be made of exactly the same type of material that the container is made of if they cover more than 60% of the container. For example, our airless containers and corresponding labels are made of polypropylene (PP) so that the machines at the sorting facility can recognise them correctly. And our dropper bottle labels are removable - so you can simply take the label off the glass bottle and put both into appropriate recycling bins.
At Deerieo we do our absolute best to ensure our packaging is as environmentally friendly as possible, balancing user safety, product compatibility, eco-credentials, functionality and price of our packaging.
The price - are you paying for the ingredients or packaging?
Packaging price inevitably impacts the final price of the product, the price you as a consumer need to pay for your favourite cosmetic. The cost of the container, labels, and external packaging forms a significant share of the product cost. This is why as a small business, we always tread on a very thin line between affordability and our pricing, seeking most cost-efficient solutions that will please you - our customer - without breaking the bank. This really isn’t easy, as buying anything less than 1000 pieces of containers or labels really skyrockets the price per piece. This not only requires a huge immediate spend on the business side, but poses a risk that this spend will never be recovered in case the product is not successful or there is an issue with that packaging, so it can’t be used in the final product.
The only thing a small business can do to reduce the packaging cost without compromising the quality is to … grow. Support small businesses :)
As you can see, cosmetic packaging has a direct impact on the end-users and is a really important thing to consider when choosing a skincare product, especially if you are seeking an environment-friendly option.
I hope you’ve enjoyed this post and found some interesting information that will help you consciously and responsibly choose cosmetic products you wish to include into your beauty regime. This by no means exhaustive information but I’ve tried to be as comprehensive as possible in a fairly short form ;)
If you have found this post useful or would like to share your thoughts and experiences, or ask questions, please leave a comment below!