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From Biodegradable to Recyclable: Packaging Choices for Beauty Brands

By: Lisa Doyle
Posted: January 31, 2012, from the January 2012 issue of GCI Magazine.

It’s a given that today’s consumers have grown to expect eco-friendly packaging to envelop their sustainably sourced beauty products. And, in an increasing amount of countries, it’s becoming a requirement. “Consumers in India, Japan and Taiwan have strict regulations and bans on plastics and other pollutants compared to other regions of the world due to the limited space and challenges they have been confronted with from the impacts of pollution,” says Patti Aragoni of Green Bag Company, an eco-conscious bag and packaging supplier based in San Francisco. Moreover, many European countries—notably Norway, Sweden, Finland, Germany and Austria—have eco-conscious behavior deeply rooted into their culture, and consumers expect the disposability of their products to be simple and environmentally responsible.

However, a brand should keep in mind that there are many ways to promote a green message through packaging: It can be composted or biodegradable; it can be tossed in the recycling bin; or it can be refilled or reused. A savvy brand owner will carefully weigh the benefits of each kind of green packaging solution when implementing changes.

Back to Earth

By definition, a material is biodegradable when, under the right conditions, it can be broken down by microbes or other living organisms as a food source. Traditionally, this has been more commonly found in secondary packaging for beauty products in the form of folding boxboard while the primary package hasn’t been compostable. Leoplast, a bioplastics packaging manufacturer based in Arignano, Italy, has bucked the tradition for several years through its VegetalPlastic line. Composed of corn, cellulose and other plants and agricultural waste, VegetalPlastics are fully biodegradable. “Moreover, VegetalPlastic advantages are its bio-renewability, and the raw materials are considered carbon neutral as it releases an amount of carbon dioxide equivalent to the amount consumed by the plant during its growth period,” says Marie-Laure Viellard, public relations for Leoplast. “VegetalPlastic allows fewer greenhouse gas emissions, thus contributing to fighting the threat of climate change and reducing the carbon footprint.”

Green Bag Company has also recently expanded its offerings to include packaging that can be broken down and returned to the planet. “We are in the process of launching our new subdivision of Green Bag Company, ‘40 Shades Of,’ which is completely dedicated to biomaterials,” says Aragoni. “The biomaterial range comprises non-GMO, renewable, natural sources that are both 100% biodegradable and compostable. In the beauty packaging line, you will find an array of containers that can be used to store cosmetic creams and liquids for the face and body, and that can be used to store makeup.”

In the Bin