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Is zero-waste beauty possible?

Circularity and zero-waste are very fashionable in beauty now. Environmental sustainability of every variety has taken on an added importance since the onset of the pandemic.

And as regions around the world begin to move into the recovery phase of this health and financial crisis and the business of beauty picks up, we are seeing the effects of conscious business pivots along the beauty supply chain and of evolved consumer expectations in the retail marketplace.

Beauty Makers are Setting Their Sights on Zero-Waste

And while many businesses and brands are making claims about zero-waste now,

it’s more often apt to talk about zero-waste goals or initiatives than any such business-wide achievement.

There are zero-waste initiatives that are, in fact, zero – post-consumer – waste efforts that rely on degradable beauty ingredients, degradable product formulas, and packaging with a future function through recycling, reuse, or biodegradation.

There are zero-waste-to-landfill efforts, some of which still include the burning of waste—a practice that…well, results in waste and various pollutants. And much of zero-waste is about materials and doesn’t take energy expenditure into account.

Still we hear a lot about zero-waste packaging from brands. And at times, these efforts are falling under scrutiny.

Allure Magazine took a stand on use of the term ‘zero-waste’ just last month, saying, “Yes, many plastics are capable of being recycled, but most of them never are. With our new pledge on how Allure reports on sustainability in packaging — banning misleading buzzwords like ‘biodegradable’ and ‘zero-waste’ — we hope to change the way we think about beauty waste by changing how we talk about it.”

So, while zero-waste continues to be something of a unicorn concept in beauty, suppliers, manufacturer, and brands are making progress and making noise about it.

Beauty, Suppliers, Manufacturer, and Brands are Moving Toward Zero-Waste

In color cosmetics, for instance, mascara brands like ilia use aluminum for their tubes and a new brand called Izzy Zero-Waste beauty is using stainless steel mascara packaging—that brand is also certified carbon-neutral (a program that allows carbon offsets as part of its measurement and reduction strategy).

Also in the mascara space, the SGB Packaging Group is now offering mascara wands with green fibers, a more sustainable option than conventional spoolie bristles.

Metal packaging has also found popularity among deodorant brands, Noniko uses stainless steel tubes; and the Grove Collabortive’s Peach brand just launched deodorant in aluminum. And both of those brands metal beauty packaging is refillable besides being recyclable.

Waterless and solid beauty product formats are getting attention for their potential in the circular economy too. And here, I always like to refer back to ethique, the New Zealand – based brand Brianne West founded in 2012. All ethique products are water-free bars and come packaged in water-soluble paper.

I want to mention the partnership between LOLI Beauty and The Better Packaging Company, which resulted in an – approved compostable alternative to bubble wrap.

And even accessory and product applicator brands like Eco Tools and Beauty Blender are joining in on the circular beauty conversation.

Beauty Blender boasts that its applicator sponges are recyclable. While EcoTools launched it BioBlender sponge applicator early this year. That tool is made of bio-based, vegan materials and promises to degrade in compost in 6 months’ time.

Cosmetics and Personal Care Manufacturers are Investing in Waste Reduction

Beauty manufacturing companies are, of course, also investing in solutions that make zero-waste a foreseeable possibility.

Switzerland-based cosmetic and pharma manufacturer Mibelle Group uses a technology called CleanTanx from LiquiGlide. And this cuts back considerably on wash water, energy, and labor, reducing yield loss in the toothpaste manufacturing process by as much as 99%. Just last month Mibelle committed to using the CleanTanX technology on other product manufacturing lines too.

Also of note in the manufacturing space are materials from a Finland-based company called Sulapac. This company’s bio-based plastic alternatives function as a drop-in solution, which means they can be used with most existing production lines and packaging molds—the same equipment that has previously turned out plastic beauty packaging.

But all that is just a brief look at how brands and suppliers are starting to make the shift to zero-waste beauty. Please do leave a comment and tell me how your business is helping move beauty closer to a circular economic model.

And thanks for watching!

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this DUviews item was originally posted to LinkedIn and now appears on


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