How Can the Cosmetics Industry Become More Sustainable Through Packaging?

published Aug 02, 2021
2 min read

Sustainable Cosmetics

The wider cosmetics industry produces over 120 billion units of packaging annually, based on figures from Forbes, and with temperatures globally rising beyond recognition, it’s high time individual brands took a step back to see what small steps we can take to make a big difference!

While many brands are taking the initiative to package their products in more easily recyclable packaging such as glass or cardboard, there is still a disproportionate amount of single use packaging being used in the beauty industry.  

Not all plastics can be recycled, and when in landfill can take up to 500 years to break down, releasing harmful toxins into the environment as it does so. By switching to glass bottles, eyelash extensions brand London Lash is working towards significantly reducing their carbon footprint – up to 80% of glass can be recycled in industrial recycling plants – not only does glass packaging look far sleeker, but most importantly it does the planet some good as well! 

When it comes to eyelash extensions specifically, it is common for these to arrive in hard plastic cases. This is one of the hardest to recycle – especially the black sections which are notoriously difficult for machines at the recycling plants to locate, due to the way that black materials absorb light. Packaging in the lash world is moving away from these types of trays and is swiftly moving towards trays made from cardboard instead – an easy to recycle material which can even be composted!

London Lash were the trailblazers of this initiative, adopting the more eco-friendly cardboard lash trays back in 2018. Since then, there has been an industry-wide shift to this kind of tray, which is slowly having an impact on the behaviour of the lash industry and its consumers – not to mention on the planet! 

What other simple swaps can be made?

It’s not just the products – when cosmetics and beauty supplies are shipped to customers, they are often padded out with bubble wrap, which is, in simple terms, an ecological nightmare. But by swapping to a more eco-friendly option such as shredded paper, products are kept safe and the planet is kept happier; paper takes an average of 6 weeks to break down in landfill if it even makes it there, and can be used in compost bins to go directly back to nourishing the earth and helping new plants to grow. 

Cellophane packets are also seeing an overhaul, being replaced by plant-based biodegradable materials instead – these still serve the purpose of keeping products clean and scuff free, however degrade within a matter of weeks in landfill, not even making it to the oceans! Who’d have thought this simple switch could do so much for the general well-being of our planet’s sealife?! 

It is also becoming increasingly common for those packing peanuts which used to be made from the soft but hardy styrofoam to instead be made from a plant-based, starchy substance which is still robust enough to protect your goods during transit but which dissolve upon contact with water! 

And when it comes to shipping boxes, while many brands have already made the switch to those made from cardboard, it’s common to find that these are then sealed with non-recyclable packing tape. There is a rise in the use of paper tape which has an eco-friendly adhesive on the underside – again, a super simple way for cosmetics brands to look out for the wellbeing of the planet. 

By making these small, simple and more sustainable changes we are sure to see a reduction in the plastic waste generated by the beauty industry, which will have a huge impact on the amount of damage being done to the planet. 

This guest-post was written by Laura Brown, who is a copywriter and editor for London Lash Pro – an industry-leading eyelash extensions supplier for professional lash technicians