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Cosmetics slow to embrace sustainable packaging

Although packaging has the highest environmental footprint of cosmetic products, Organic Monitor research finds that it is generally overlooked when beauty companies look at sustainability.

Organic Monitor finds that cosmetic firms are focusing on green formulations, resource efficiency and life-cycle assessments of their products when developing sustainability plans. Although companies are aware of the environmental impact of packaging, they have been slow to embrace sustainable packaging solutions.


Even organic cosmetic companies-many of which have sustainability built into their corporate image-are lagging in adopting sustainable packaging. Such companies have pioneered organic cosmetic standards, implementing fair trade and ethical sourcing, and broader social responsibility initiatives but few are focusing on reducing their packaging footprints, the study shows.


Although there is growing research in bioplastics packaging, there remain few cosmetic applications. High heat sensitivity and water permeability prevent such packaging to be used for products such as creams, lotions and shampoos. Biopolymers are mainly used in color cosmetic cases.


Most beauty companies seek to use recycled packaging materials. Burt's Bees has committed to use only recycled materials. Organic Monitor finds Aveda to be the frontrunner in sustainabale practices. Aveda is the largest user of PCR plastic in the industry, saving more than 1 million pounds of virgin plastic each year.

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