Despite the general doom and gloom forecast across the high street, the Health and Beauty sector is thriving. Consumers are expected to increase their annual spend on cosmetics over the next few years. By 2022 the industry is predicted to be worth 26.7 billion. Skincare is predicted to be the fastest-growing sub-sector and is set to rise by 27.9% by 2022 (Global Data).
This is great news for all cosmetics companies out there but from a packaging perspective, it is likely to increase our plastic pollution crisis and put enormous pressure on both our manufacturing and recycling industries.
The cosmetics industry uses a vast amount of packaging, not only to adequately hold and protect products but also to promote the brand and product in a highly competitive industry. Many brands wish to present the image of a superior quality product to gain the edge over their competitors. To achieve this they need high-end packaging of the most superior grade. Plastic is widely used and is useful for its protective and preservative qualities. It can also be made transparent, meaning the product can be showcased yet protected. Cosmetics products are often covered in a mixture of packaging, from thick cardboard with a plastic window, to cellophane and styrofoam peanuts, none of which can be easily recycled.
Packing boxes, used for shipping larger quantities into stores are often brand new bespoke boxes, printed with the company’s name. Boxes that are used to ship products to stores do not come into contact with any customers, yet a lot of energy has gone into creating those boxes. Trees have been cut down for the wood pulp and large amounts of CO2 have been produced during the manufacturing process, adding to our global climate change problems.
Do these companies realise that these expensive boxes are harming our environment? Even cardboard boxes that do get recycled must go through an extensive process requiring vast amounts of energy and water and producing large volumes of CO2, just so that box can be made right back into… another cardboard box.
Time for Change
We are urging all cosmetics companies, from small business owners, right up to multi-nationals, to re-think how they package their products. Promoting recycling is not enough. Companies need to rethink their packaging source and reuse before they even consider buying new.
A used cardboard box supplier such as Reuseabox, provides low cost, eco-friendly cardboard boxes to industry. Whilst these boxes have been used, their quality is often like new. There may be a little tape or a label on the boxes, some may even be printed but they will all be clean, dry and perfectly reusable. If the print is a problem we can supply some eco-friendly packing tape that can be printed to explain how the boxes are being reused to help save our environment.
Interestingly, obligations under the Packaging Waste Producer Responsibilities, which larger companies must fulfil to document the amount of packaging they are sending out, are not required when packing in used cardboard boxes. We would still advocate the reuse and recycling of all cardboard boxes. This does, however, provide some respite from the government regulations.
The Body Shop
We know that there are many cosmetics companies who see themselves as ethical in their attitude to their products. The Body Shop has an excellent set of values summarised with its ‘Enrich Not Exploit Targets’. They summarise, amongst other points, how their products are never tested on animals, they pay fair prices to their community trade partners and how 70% of their product packaging does not contain fossil fuels. If you have ever been into a Body Shop store you will notice that most of their products are heavily packaged in plastic, some of which cannot be recycled. The Body Shop has excellent values when it comes to product and brand innovation but we need to see this forward-thinking mindset being applied to their packaging.
There are many ways that the cosmetics industry can help reduce plastic pollution and take greater responsibility for the huge quantities of packaging it is sending out into the world. Whilst packing in used cardboard boxes is a small step, it could be a very powerful one.