Each year, the global beauty industry generates 120 billion units of packaging, much of which ends up in landfill. The responsibility falls on both companies and consumers to make smarter choices to reduce their impact, but with sustainable plastic free beauty solutions becoming more innovative and accessible, the future’s looking brighter. Ahead of July’s Plastic Free Beauty Month, here is The Glossary‘s edit of the most innovative brands leading the way when it comes to plastic alternatives.
The beauty industry’s amount of waste is coming to light in new statistics unveiled to the shock of consumers. Recycling company TerraCycle reports that the worldwide beauty industry generates 120 billion pieces of packaging per year, with 8 million pieces of plastic entering the ocean each day. Over the course of a year, this equates to a staggering 12.7 million tonnes of plastic, which has already caused irreparable damage to the world’s ecosystem and marine life. It’s estimated that 1 million seabirds and 100,000 marine animals die every year from plastic pollution, while up to 100% of baby sea turtles are thought to have plastic in their stomachs.
With these figures set to grow exponentially alongside plastic production – it’s estimated that annual plastic waste will surpass 700 million tonnes by 2034, and there will be more plastic in the sea than fish – it’s more essential than ever that we find sustainable solutions to replace plastic use and reuse what we can. It’s up to both companies and consumers to make change happen. Beauty brands must take a closer look at their supply chains and find ways to reduce their waste, while consumers must be more conscious about plastic free beauty and their disposal habits. It’s believed that 56% of Britons neglect to recycle their bathroom products as a matter of convenience. Looking at lipsticks alone, around one billion cases are discarded yearly, most of which end up in landfill where they take 400-500 years to degrade.
Ahead of July’s Plastic Free Beauty Month, which urges us to shun plastics and share how we repurpose empties, we’ve rounded up the beauty brands leading the way in plastic free beauty packaging.
Leading the way in sustainable scents, Floral Street is an independent, eco-conscious fragrance house that embraces the natural power of flowers. Founded by British beauty powerhouse Michelle Feeney, the sustainable brand is built around the ‘five Rs’ – rethink, reduce, reuse, repurpose and recycle – which guide every step of the product journey. This ethos extends to the plastic free packaging, which is made from compostable pulp recycled from responsibly managed forests. The brand also uses sustainably sourced FSC certified carbon balanced paper and it’s recently removed tamper seals on its cartons, which are reusable and biodegradable.
Transforming the term ‘fussy’ from a negative to a positive, this natural deodorant producer has an extensive list of values it’s committed to upholding. Every deodorant is free from single-use plastics, aluminium and animal products. Using natural ingredients backed by science, the unique formula uses microorganisms that facilitate growth of the body’s ‘good’ bacteria, while at the same time inhibiting the growth of ‘bad’ bacteria. A key element is a probiotic called lactobacillus, which is blended with natural ingredients such as sunflower wax, coconut oil and shea butter for texture and moisture. Meanwhile, the company itself is carbon neutral, cruelty-free and sustainable – its B Corp certification is pending. Fussy operates a subscription model – simply purchase your first product and then top up with refills, saving on packaging waste.
Forgo, meaning ‘to do without’, is at the forefront of the future of hand washing. The sustainable subscription-based personal care service, which launched in 2020, produces powder-to-liquid handwash – simply mix the powder with water to create a foaming cleanser. Designed to replace traditional hand wash, many of which are stored in single-use plastic bottles, FORGO products remove the issue of excess plastic packaging. The powder, which comes in three scents – neutral, citrus and wood – is made from excess fruits rescued from the juicing industry and wood scraps. Raw ingredients go through a method of subtraction to reduce it down to a concentrated powder that’s easy, and light, to transport – one refill emits 85% less Co2e than a new bottle of soap from a traditional brand. Hand wash powder is packaged in recycled paper. For mixing the powder with water, pick up a compostable glass Forgo bottle, designed in Sweden and handmade in Portugal.
Inspired by nature and powered by science, new vegan botanical skincare brand Loopeco launched this April on Earth Day 2021. Specialising in conscious-free skincare that’s good for skin and the environment, the brand is committed to the circular economy model. It’s ethos is built around turning waste into something new – its next generation plastic-free, compostable, recyclable packaging is a prime example of this. Made from post-consumer materials, embedded with Chrysanthemum seeds and stamped with vegetable ink, boxes are plantable. Simply plant the box in your garden, cover it with a thin layer of soil, and watch as it biodegrades and colourful wildflowers bloom in its place.
British solid skincare brand Sbtrct (pronounced ‘subtract’) offers innovative skincare solutions that are high performance yet kind to the planet. Founded by industry veteran Ben Grace (a founding partner of men’s skincare brand Bulldog), the newly launched company operates a zero waste, cruelty-free, plastic-free business model, while its products are soap-free, palm oil-free, vegan, compostable and waterless. The young brand has already won awards for its products, which include dermatologically-tested cleaners and facial balms – all 100% made in the UK using natural or plant-derived ingredients such as coconut oil, shea butter, squalane and glycerine. It also makes eco-conscious bathroom accessories such as porous soap dishes made from fossilised algae – a material which is antibacterial and mould resistant – and sustainable magnetically sealed bamboo pots.
Created in 2010 by Danish make-up artist Kirsten Kjaer Weis, this organic cosmetics brand houses cream and powder formulations in reusable metal cases. Designed to last for life, the sturdy cases are refillable – simply pop different shades in and out when you want to switch up your makeup routine. Its recently introduced Red Edition packaging, made from lightweight cardboard, is fully recyclable and offers consumers a second option that’s both sustainable and stylish. The brand’s cartridge refills are also recyclable – they’re made out of recycled compressed paper pulp – while the products themselves are certified organic and natural, meaning they’re kind to your skin, too.
Stress-Fix Soaking Bath Salts
Created and shipped from Margate using local seaweed, cult British natural skincare and fragrance brand Haeckels does its best to ensure consumers receive as little waste as possible with every product, rather than placing the emphasis on recycling it when it arrives. All their packaging is made from glass and algae is used in a truly innovative way to create bottle seals and mycelium, a completely biodegradable, fungus-like bacteria that’s grown and formed into protective moulds for delivery. Choose from bestsellers like their original seaweed soaps, infused body cleanser or the famed seaweed bath soak.
Beauty Babe Balm
When vegan skincare brand Bybi first launched in 2017, their innovative packaging, made from a bioplastic derived from sugarcane, caught the attention of the media and consumers alike, and rightly so. They were one of the first beauty brands to use the plastic alternative, which offsets carbon emissions with the growing of the plant, and it has since been adopted by many other brands. Alongside this they also make 70% of their packaging from glass, a natural material that can be recycled over and over again, and print their wording directly onto the bottles instead of using labels, which are usually coated in plastic and are not recyclable.
When you order an aluminium can of Kankan soap, it arrives in a cardboard box and an amber glass bottle (if you choose), both of which can be sent back to the company to reuse or recycle. The handmade soaps feature beautifully scented, all-natural ingredients like chamomile, lavender and juniper, and for each sale a tree is planted through the One Tree Planted initiative. Aluminium is being heralded as the best plastic alternative for many sustainable beauty brands; whereas only 9% of plastics ever made have been recycled, 75% of aluminium produced is still in use today, and recycling only requires 8% of the energy needed to create it from scratch.
Environment-first, Belfast-based, vegan haircare brand We Are Paradoxx was founded by Yolanda Cooper in 2019, who is also behind Plastic Free Beauty Day. Formulated with natural ingredients native to Ireland such as hops, clover, moss and whiskey, sustainability lies at the heart of this British brand. Plastic free wherever possible (currently at 90%) the products are housed in aluminium, the only material that can be recycled infinitely. What’s more, the smart designs mean that products can also be re-filled and reused endlessly, finding new life as shower gel dispensers, toothbrush holders or hip flasks. The brand are also active members of 1% For The Planet, an organisation that deliver funding directly to various environmental charities, through which they donate 1% of their annual revenue to green causes.