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Reduce, Reuse, Recycle

By: Sara Mason
Posted: September 3, 2009, from the September 2009 issue of GCI Magazine.

page 3 of 6

Innovations and improvements are being made to deliver environmentally friendly refill packaging for liquid soaps as well. Created by Alcan Packaging, the Softsoap Hand Soap Refill Pouch, for example, benefits from an energy efficient manufacturing process, lightweight materials and collapsibility to offer environmental benefits in the areas of reduced emissions, waste and energy consumption.


Certainly, from a packaging industry standpoint, the effort has long been made to encourage recycling. Origins is not the only brand that primarily uses PET and polypropylene for its packaging simply because it can be recycled. “Our focus continues to be cost-effective environmentally friendly packaging,” explained Alan Bodker, executive director of package development.

In April, Origins launched The Return to Origins Recycling Program in the U.S. to accept all cosmetic empties, regardless of brand, at more than 450 Origins retail stores and department store counters. The program was in response to the growing percentage of beauty packaging being thrown away each year. “We hope to inspire the rest of our industry to take proactive measures to implement practices that protect our communities and the environment,” said Bodker. The brand offers further enticement, too. Each time consumers bring in empties, they receive a free sample of the Origins product of their choice. Since the program inception, Origins’ free-standing retail stores on the East and West coasts have received approximately 700 pounds and 900 pounds of returns, respectively. All of the collected packaging will either be recycled, when possible, or responsibly converted to energy.

Following Origins’ lead, Sweetsation Therapy began the “Recycle and be Rewarded” program earlier in 2009 to encourage its customers to get involved in the recycling process. When the brand’s used jars and bottles, all 100% recyclable, are returned for re-melting, customers receive a gift of one product of their choice, a $20 value. The idea behind it is to make consumers more alert to the problem and get motivated to do something about it. “Many materials can be recycled but aren’t because of the time commitment involved,” said Natalja Millsap, owner, Sweetsation Therapy. “Our program should be enticing enough to transform one customer at a time.” The company posted information about the program on its Web site ( and includes a flyer with every purchase. It’s a work in progress, and Millsap is looking to add new marketing to promote it. “We have had very positive feedback through e-mails and comments, and we expect a good response once those who made purchases at the beginning of the promotion use up their product,” said Millsap.

Postconsumer recyclate (PCR) from polyethyelene terephthalate (PET) has become so common, it’s rare to find a brand that does not use some percentage of recycled materials in its packaging, although quality has been an issue. Alcan Packaging Beauty has entered the market with a plastic tube made from up to 60% recycled materials that the company claims has the same visual and technical qualities as its other tubes. The environmentally friendly PCR tube is a multilayer structure that the company claims guarantees product/packaging compatibility, as the inner layer is still made from virgin material.