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Recycling Becomes Regular: Four Packaging Innovations Paving the Way

Published February 16, 2023
Published February 16, 2023

Beauty is becoming more ethically conscious on a daily basis as brands continue to create cosmetics with sustainability in mind. For some, creating environmentally friendly SKUs has become a core element of the production process. This approach has an eager audience, with consumers 70 percent more likely to purchase a product if it is recyclable. So far in 2023, an array of beauty businesses and suppliers alike have introduced or proposed sustainable offerings to help tackle climate change. From H Beauty’s recycling program to Coty’s fragrance refill system, here are January’s sustainably minded beauty endeavors selected by BeautyMatter:

H Beauty x MYGroup: Luxury retailer Harrods has teamed up with Yorkshire, England-based recycling business MYGroup to provide a cosmetics recycling project. The collaboration allows customers to bring back used beauty products to be repurposed, including fragrance bottles, skincare products, and even items considered “unrecyclable,” such as nail polish. The initiative started mid-January in H Beauty’s Milton Keynes, England location as a pilot program that Harrods tested for three months. MYGroup provided recycling bins for the store and recycled the collected items at its dedicated plant in Hull. The collected products were processed and recycled―either returned to the supply chain, composted, or used within MYGroup’s solution for non-recyclable plastic waste―MYboard, a material similar to plywood. The collection bins were placed at the tills, with H Beauty employees on hand to monitor activity and talk through the process with consumers. The project aligns with H Beauty’s My Beauty Rewards program, allowing those involved to access benefits that can be claimed in-store and online.

P&G: The manufacturing company has patented a pump design that doesn’t require disassembly to be recycled. The pump has an enclosed spring that can be broken down by general recycling machines and will be used on packaging for products, including haircare products and lotions. According to the brand, most pump-equipped products, which feature a steel spring and cannot be easily broken down during recycling, are created with polythene or polypropylene. P&G’s new design features a dispenser that “compromises only recyclable plastics from the same material recycling class, as defined by the Society of Plastics Industry, including a plastic spring.” The patented design is still in the works and expected to positively impact the industry and environment when it debuts in the coming months.

LVMH Beauty x Dow: The perfume and cosmetics company is working with packaging innovator Dow to create plastic packaging made from chemically recycled and bio-based feedstocks. The packaging will include Dow’s Surlyn ionomers, which make for flexible, grease-resistant containers. Raw materials, including cooking oil, are planned to be used as bio-based feedstock, which combines Surlyn ionomers to maintain a luxury aesthetic while reducing LVMH’s carbon footprint. The collaboration comes after Dow recently announced its plan to commercialize three million tonnes of renewable and circular packaging solutions per yearhopefully encouraging cosmetics companies to use more ethically minded packaging solutions.

Coty: The multinational beauty company has filed an international patent for a perfumery machine that allows consumers to blend and refill their favorite scents in-store. The station works by letting consumers add a preselected level of fragrance to an empty container, followed by distilled water and organic compound ethanol. According to Coty, adding these elements in this order “provides a fragrance to a user having the same organoleptic properties as the original fragrance.” The innovation is considered suitable for a range of fragrances, as well as transparent and opaque packaging options. The offering will feature a fully digital interface, with simple-to-follow steps. The scent machine comes a year after Coty launched Chloé Rose Naturelle Intense, its first refillable fragrance. These refillable bottles use 67 percent less water and 66 percent less energy and are believed to have reduced greenhouse gas emissions by 65 percent as compared to purchasing a new product.

While it is great to see that several beauty companies are engaging in sustainability and making efforts to be more environmentally ethical through their packaging innovations, only an average of five percent  of plastic waste is actually recycled in the US yearly. What's worse, this number is declining, with less recyclable packaging actually being recycled than in previous years—in 2021, an average of nine percent of plastics were recycled. In the future, brands need to keep producing recyclable solutions, continue to push the narrative of sustainability, and find ways to engage consumers that encourage them to recycle. Initiatives such as H Beauty's recycling program are a positive step that will hopefully catch consumers' attention and inspire them to return their empty packaging for the greater good of the earth while rewarding them for doing so. In the battle against climate change, positive reinforcement seems to be the way forward.


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