Sustainable packaging trends 2021

25 Aug 2021

Consumers care just as much about packaging as they do what’s inside the container. In line with keeping the planet as a priority and eliminating unnecessary waste, beauty brands are finding innovative ways to produce makeup, skin care and personal care products housed in Earth-friendly designs. Global Cosmetic Industry reached out to industry insiders to learn about how packaging is becoming more sustainable and environmentally friendly. 

Eco-friendly practices

Packaging often plays a key role in a company’s sustainability initiatives, and research shows that consumers are willing to pay more for eco-friendly options. This includes recyclable packaging, reusable and refillable packaging and packaging with sustainable materials including postconsumer recycled plastic, ocean-bound plastic, bio-plastics, and bamboo. As many beauty brands are making the change to more sustainable packaging, kraft paperboard tubes are gaining popularity. Designed as a sustainable alternative to plastic lip balm tubes, kraft tubes are made from recycled paper and post-consumer content.

Eleanor Bunting, marketing manager, International Cosmetic Suppliers, says, “The leading trends in sustainable packaging have circularity in mind. Recyclability and reusability are no longer an added benefit, but quickly becoming a necessary element to beauty packaging. Still, recyclability can often be a challenge for some consumers and brands who are faced with limited recycling facilities in their area and monomaterial packaging makes this shift to sustainable and recyclable packaging a reality. Monomaterial packaging is packaging that contains one type of material, and once all the product has been used up, consumers can just toss it into their recycling bin without disassembly, making the pack effortless to recycle. Sustainable recyclable decoration and finish options are also a growing trend and need to be taken into consideration for optimum recyclability of the pack.”


Luisa Kamelhar, VP of sales, North and Midwest region, Baralan, says, “The sustainable development of the products is linked to the idea of a circular economy that considers quality and aesthetics, satisfying both design and functionality needs while ensuring better conditions for product life cycles.”

Glass packaging

Lee Batthany, VP sales, Zignago Glass USA, says, “Thanks to glass’s characteristics, it is the preferred material leading the sustainability trend. Glass is 100% recyclable and may be used an infinite number of times. Glass manufacturing uses glass cullet to produce new glass containers which reduces energy consumption, decreases CO2 emissions, lowers virgin raw material consumption, and yields less waste in landfills. Increased percentage of recycled glass and PCR glass (post-consumer-recycled) used is a real time sustainable packaging trend. Another key trend is the increased demand for refillable screw neck glass solutions. Sustainable packaging will allow consumers to easily separate the various components and to refill the same container. Lastly, an evolving trend is finding decoration solutions and accessories for clientele that are even more sustainable and eco-friendly.” 

Céline Le Marre, Verescence’s marketing and communication project manager, says, “There is a strong trend toward lighter glass weight, as it is the main lever for reducing the environmental impact of a product. Verescence has developed a forming technique that allows us to refine glass walls and reduce the glass weight of a bottle or a jar up to 60% while maintaining aesthetics and solidity. A good example of this technology is Guerlain’s Abeille Royale jar, which has been lightened by 42% while using Verre Infini 40.” 

Refillable products

Bunting says, “Although not a new concept, refillable packaging is also increasing in demand. Consumers are becoming more accustomed to the sustainable, minimalist trend of less is more. Refilling and reusing packs is a great way to replace single use plastic and helps reduce waste. But for consumers to consistently use their refill, it has got to be both aesthetically pleasing and functionally effortless to use, making refillable packaging a premium, sustainable packaging option.”

Bunting continues, “Sustainable packaging doesn’t need to compromise on luxury and at ICS we have a variety of refillable packaging options available that provide a sophisticated way to replace single use plastic. Our recent refillable lipstick is available with post-consumer recycled plastic, adding another layer of sustainability. Easy to refill, simply pull the lipstick mechanism out from the base, then insert the refill into the base until it securely clicks in place. We have also recently launched a series of refillable single and duo-end pencils. Available with a variety of applicator options on one end, such as spoolie, sponge, silicone brush and a variety of tip shape options on the other, simply unscrew the tip of the pencil and swap out the empty cartridge once all the formulation is used up and then replace with a new pencil bullet cartridge.”

Le Marre adds, “[Refillable formats] are gaining a lot of momentum in the beauty market. We are accelerating the development of specific or standard bottles with a screw neck, allowing customers to refill their perfume or separate the pump from the bottle during recycling.” 

A modern, ‘clean beauty’ approach to cosmetics is a trend we have seen reflected in increased demand for sustainable packaging, noted by distinct consumer and brand choices which are continually seeking newness and innovation. We see trends toward lighter colors, natural materials and portability, as well as refillable and customizable designs. A combination of both cleaner and more natural formulas and sustainable packaging builds a bridge to consumer interests. The concept here is to promote clean beauty from within, using a combination of both cleaner formulas and greener packaging to provide a fresh approach to supporting the environment.



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