The Ugly Side Of Beauty - Why The Beauty Industry Is Trying To Rewrite Its Wrongs When It Comes To Plastic Pollution
by Beth Hall on Jun 08, 2023
The beauty industry’s notable dependence on plastic has contributed massively to the world’s current plastic pollution problem. It contributes in several ways which include:
- Packaging: Beauty products often come in plastic containers, such as bottles, jars, and tubes. Many of these containers are made from non-recyclable or difficult-to-recycle plastics, which end up in landfills or as litter in the environment. Additionally, excessive packaging, such as multiple layers or unnecessary plastic inserts, adds to the overall plastic waste generated by the industry.
- Single-use products: The beauty industry produces a wide range of single-use items, including makeup wipes, cotton pads, and applicators. These products are typically made from plastic materials and are discarded after just one use, contributing significantly to plastic pollution.
- Microbeads: Microbeads are tiny plastic particles that are commonly used in exfoliating scrubs, toothpaste, and other personal care products. These microbeads are often too small to be effectively filtered by water treatment systems and end up in rivers, lakes, and oceans, where they can harm marine life and enter the food chain.
- Sample sizes and freebies: Many beauty brands offer sample sizes and free product giveaways as a marketing strategy. While these small items may seem harmless, they often come packaged in individual plastic sachets or containers, which are frequently discarded after minimal use.
- Shipping and transportation: The global nature of the beauty industry involves the transportation of products across long distances. This transportation process often relies on plastic packaging materials, including bubble wrap, air pillows, and plastic pallet wraps, which contribute to plastic waste.
The beauty industry has been taking steps to address plastic pollution and promote sustainability. Here are some of the initiatives and actions taken by the industry:
- Packaging innovations: Many beauty brands are actively exploring alternative packaging materials to reduce their reliance on plastic. This includes using biodegradable or compostable materials, such as bamboo or sugarcane-based plastics, as well as glass, aluminium, or paper packaging. Some brands are also experimenting with refillable or reusable containers to minimise single-use packaging.
- Refillable and reusable options: Several beauty companies are introducing refillable systems, allowing customers to purchase product refills instead of new packaging. Refillable makeup palettes, lipstick cases, and fragrance bottles are becoming more common, reducing the amount of plastic waste generated.
- Plastic-free alternatives: Some beauty brands are eliminating plastic from their products altogether. For instance, there is a growing trend towards solid beauty products like shampoo bars like ours ( https://simplelivingeco.com/products/shampoo-bar ), solid moisturisers, and deodorants that do not require plastic packaging.
- Sustainable sourcing: The beauty industry is recognizing the importance of sustainable sourcing of ingredients. Companies are working towards responsibly sourcing raw materials, such as palm oil, that have a history of contributing to deforestation and habitat destruction.
- Recycling programs: Several beauty brands have implemented recycling initiatives to encourage customers to properly dispose of their empty product containers. Some companies offer recycling programs in partnership with dedicated recycling organisations or provide incentives for returning empty containers, making it easier for consumers to recycle their beauty product packaging.
- Industry collaborations and certifications: Beauty brands are collaborating with organisations and initiatives focused on sustainable practices and plastic pollution reduction. They are seeking certifications, such as the Cradle to Cradle or B Corp certifications, to showcase their commitment to environmentally friendly practices.
Consumer education and awareness: Beauty companies (and fully fledged eco-companies like ours) are actively raising awareness among their consumers about plastic pollution and the importance of sustainable choices. Through marketing campaigns, social media engagement, and educational initiatives, they aim to empower consumers to make informed and sustainable choices when purchasing beauty products.
While progress is being made, it's important to note that the beauty industry is vast and diverse, and not all brands have fully embraced sustainability practices. However, there is a clear growing shift towards more environmentally conscious approaches, driven by consumer demand for greener and more sustainable beauty options.
Here at Simple Living Eco we are continuously working on new innovations, not only in regards to our products, but how we source our materials, the material we use in our packaging and how our products are made and shipped. There are so many ways consumers can choose to live more ethically, that continuing to contribute to the growing plastic pollution caused by plastic beauty products is no longer justifiable!