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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.

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A great option for many is packaging that can be recycled in the traditional sense: tossed in the recycling bin once the consumer is done with it. According to Mark Ormiston, director of environmental sustainability for Anomatic, an anodized aluminum packaging supplier based in Ohio, this material is ideal for many cosmetic applications. “First and foremost, anodized aluminum is 100% recyclable and makes everyday items such as beauty packages not only functional and [aesthetically pleasing], but also a wise choice because of recyclability,” says Ormiston. “Anodized aluminum packaging has been called ‘green’ for some time and is a preferred finish by the beauty industries due to its inherent environmental characteristics, as well as its luxury appeal and design versatility.”

Another packaging material that is luxurious and 100% recyclable is glass. “We believe in real eco-actions and not eco-words, so we decided to go for recyclable solutions,” says Stefano Focolari, chief marketing officer of Lumson, an Italian packaging company. “We use a lot of glass, which is a luxury material, but also the most recyclable one. It comes from limestone and sand—renewable sources—and it can be recycled forever and ever without losing in quality.”

To make the act of recycling even easier for consumers, Lumson offers the TAG-System—Techno Airless Glass—an airless system that uses a glass bottle. Due to Lumson’s patented component, the Eco-Lock system, consumers can simply unscrew the pump and easily separate all plastic components from the glass bottle. “From our studies, we have found that a glass bottle recycled without being polluted by other materials like plastic can be 100% recuperated and needs no polluting and energy-consuming, post-recycling processing,” adds Focolari.

The company even provides a “Separate Glass From Plastic” logo free of charge to brands to inform consumers about this feature of the packaging and to encourage a more responsible recycling process.

Return to Sender

One of the most eco-conscious types of packaging is one that can be reused without even re-entering the traditional recycling process. “The pack [that is] neither recyclable nor biodegradable can be better eco-friendly if it’s refillable—makeup, for example,” says Leoplast’s Viellard. Another option is sending the packaging back to its creator to take care of the recycling process. Green Bag Company offers a remanufacturing program that includes recovering the materials after the original life cycle and reprocessing them into new, marketable products. Aragoni notes, “Consumers may be more interested in the idea of reusing the packaging of their [beauty products] if brands can come up with creative and fun ways of doing so.”