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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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The partnership between Lumson and Ringana, an Austrian beauty company, serves as a success story of marketing reusable packaging. “Ringana bought our TAG airless packaging for its cosmetic product, then it made an advertising campaign telling all its customers to separate the glass from the plastic components. Then, for every 10 glass bottles separated and returned to Ringana, the client gets a new product for free,” explains Focolari. “At this point, Ringana returns the glass bottles to Lumson, Lumson reuses the glass bottles to manufacture a new airless system by reintroducing all the plastic components, and returns the new airless systems to Ringana. Ringana then fills the bottles with new cosmetic product and puts them back on the market. This is 100% recycling of the glass bottle.”

None of the Above

Can a beauty brand use packaging that is neither recyclable nor compostable and still make an argument that its product is eco-friendly? In some cases, yes—but it’s a thin line between green and greenwashed. “If the material is made from postconsumer packaging and if the material is nontoxic, it can make an eco-friendly argument,” says Aragoni. “Providing information about a product’s specific composition and ideally providing a complete life cycle analysis is a more credible way of defining one’s products and demonstrating the utmost transparency.”

Lisa Doyle was formerly the associate editor of GCI magazine and is a freelance writer in the Chicago area. Her work has appeared in Skin Inc. magazine, Salon Today, America’s Best, Renew and Modern Salon.