How to make your cosmetic packaging more eco-friendly

eco-friendly glass cosmetic packaging lying on white marble surface with green plant.

Written by Nancy

Jul 8, 2021

Plastic Free Cosmetic Packaging

No. 2 – Plastic Free Packaging Series

Want to know the ugly truth about beauty packaging?

Did you know that due to the complex nature of cosmetic packaging, beauty packaging can be difficult to recycle through normal processes? As a result, the majority of cosmetic waste ends up in landfill.* For eco-focused business owners this is less than encouraging.

I know, like me, you care about the environment. Here in Australia, there is a recycling scheme expected to be launched in mid-2022 that will address this issue. Until then, here are some packaging ideas for eco-focused beauty brand owners to consider:

Solid products Consider packaging deodorants and lip balms in aluminium containers or recyclable paper tubes. Shout out to brands like Dearest Lips and Ethique who are already doing this.

Liquid products Glass or aluminium jars work wonderfully for beauty product packaging. Glass packaging implies premium quality and appeals to consumers who are interested in natural and organic skincare. Glass and aluminum are both infinitely recyclable, making them both a great eco-friendly alternative to plastic.

Whatever packaging material you choose, it’s important the customer knows how to dispose of the various parts of the package. So, don’t forget to include disassembly and disposal instructions for pumps, droppers, lids and labels. Refer to Plastic Free Packaging Tip No. 2 for more info on plastic free labels.

OR better yet, think refillable containers!

Even better than recyclable or compostable packaging is packaging that never gets thrown away in the first place. Check out innovative brands like Elate Cosmetics who offer refillable bamboo compacts. They have created a concept of a ‘capsule makeup collection’ (like a capsule wardrobe but for your face!) and Ace of Air who has an innovative borrow packaging scheme. Return the packaging and Ace of Air takes full responsibility for the refill and recycling of their containers.

Lastly, don’t forget the outer boxes and leaflets. Choose FSC certified or recycled paper which use less energy and resources to make. Avoid varnishes and glossy finishes as these are typically made from plastic. And, if possible get on board with the ARL (Australian Recycling Label) labelling program or the equivalent in your area.

As a sustainable brand and packaging designer, I want to make it easy for more brands make their packaging less wasteful and ditch the plastic pumps and tubs asap. I hope these tips help get you started thinking more sustainably. Get in touch to learn more!


*Source: Australian Government, Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment, 2021.

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