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Eco Opportunities in Beauty Packaging

By: Sara Mason
Posted: May 31, 2013, from the June 2013 issue of GCI Magazine.

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By sourcing and finding innovative packaging ideas and alternatives, beauty brands can make a difference behind the scenes as well. Available sustainable packaging materials for shipping can be 100% bio-based, including bamboo, rice, palm and sugarcane. They are inexpensive and reduce energy and water use too.

Ecovative, for example, offers molded pulp from mushroom fibers grown on a farm for protective packaging in lieu of plastic foam. The company is able to up cycle very low value waste products into renewable and home compostable packaging. Mushroom Packaging is made from agricultural byproducts bonded together with mushroom “roots” called mycelium. “This technology is a radical departure from traditional bioplastics,” according to environmental director Sam Harrington.

Designers can customize Mushroom Packaging for individual applications. “Mushroom technology is a great way to protect glass bottles and cosmetic gift sets,” explains Harrington. “It’s an alternative that performs just as well, is cost-competitive, and provides a beautiful natural material that can be home-composted.”

Such sustainable packaging options deliver both tangible benefits and emotional rewards, allowing consumers to contribute without forcing them to step outside their comfort zone. But not everyone needs to make radical modifications to make a difference. “Everyone has the ability to shift in the direction of eco-innovation by starting small and building over time,” says brand owner Gran. From material to manufacture and from distribution to disposal and recycling, brands have opportunities to reduce their products’ impact on the environment one step at a time. As Hines says, “Sustainable packaging isn’t a destination, it’s a journey.”

Sara Mason is a freelance writer based in the Chicagoland area. She was previously managing editor of GCI magazine.