Personal care companies are making slow progress in reducing their packaging footprints, says a new report from Organic Monitor. Although the cosmetics industry has become preoccupied with green initiatives, few steps have been made to tackle the environmental impact of packaging, the agency contends.
Organic Monitor research finds most developments are occurring in ecodesign, with many brands reducing packaging materials by changing design structures. For example, the Brazilian company Natura Brasil is a frontrunner in sustainable design. Its recent launch of its mass market SOU brand epitomizes the packaging trend. SOU skin care products are housed in flexible packaging that have 70% less plastic than rigid plastic containers of the same volume.
Although some cosmetic brands are experimenting with sustainable materials like bamboo and wood, plastic packaging still prevails.
Plant-based plastics, once hailed because of their biodegradable nature, have yet to make headway in cosmetic applications. Some companies like Procter & Gamble are using hybrid polymers to overcome the limitations of bioplastics. Its Pantene Pro-V Nature Fusion packaging is mainly made from biopolymers sourced from sugar cane. Unilever is one of the few companies as well considering a packaging overhaul to address its environmental footprint. The Anglo-Dutch multinational introduced a new “compressed” can for a number of its deodorant brands earlier this year. The deodorant cans are about a third smaller, reducing packaging material costs as well as transportation costs.
Sustainable packaging is a focal theme of the upcoming editions of the Sustainable Cosmetics Summit this month and next.