What Is the Most Eco-friendly Packaging for Skincare?

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what is the most eco-friendly packaging for skincare

Did you know that 89% of Australian consumers are concerned about packaging waste? 

While packaging materials have traditionally been an afterthought for businesses launching a new skincare product, with consumers and businesses alike becoming increasingly environmentally conscious, it shouldn’t be. Packaging has become a major environmental concern and the desire and demand for more eco-friendly packaging is only going to increase in the future. 

Brands that are able to identify and meet these changing consumer expectations for more environmentally friendly packaging can not only stick a feather in their caps for doing their bit to minimise their environmental footprint, but they can also use this as a valuable selling proposition to set themselves apart and win the favour of a larger cohort of consumers. 

But what is the most eco-friendly packaging for your skincare products?

Let’s take a look at what makes skincare packaging environmentally friendly and how some popular packaging options compare on the eco front.

What Makes Packaging ‘Eco-Friendly’?

Eco-friendly packaging is essentially any type of packaging that:

  • is made out of recycled materials
  • can be easily reused, recycled or is biodegradable
  • minimises the amount of packaging material required
  • does not involve the use of toxic chemicals or materials
  • is manufactured using processes which minimise energy consumption and the use of natural resources

How Do the Different Packaging Options Compare?

Packaging materialHow eco-friendly is it?
Synthetic plasticsSynthetic plastics have long been and still are the most commonly used form of skincare packaging as they’re affordable, lightweight, flexible and very convenient—however, first-generation synthetic plastics are considered to be the least environmentally friendly packaging option.Made from petrochemicals using what are often very resource-intensive processes, even while most plastics can be recycled, many end up in landfill taking anywhere from 20 up to 500 years to decompose.
Post-consumer recycled (PCR) plasticsPCR plastics are always a more eco-friendly option compared to first-generation synthetic plastics. Your manufacturer will inform you of the allowed PCR content. It is also important that packaging is correctly disposed of after use so it can be recycled again, keeping in mind that a core limitation of recycled plastics is that the polymers in plastics do degrade over time. This means they can only be recycled 2-3 times before they can no longer be used and need to be sent to landfill.
Biobased plasticsBiobased plastics are typically derived from renewable, biological products such as carbohydrates, cornstarch, vegetable fats and oils, seaweed, beeswax, mushrooms, bacteria and other substances. Biobased plastics are a good eco-friendly option as they can decompose rapidly and are not harmful to the environment, however, using them for skincare packaging can be challenging. Your manufacturer will be able to provide guidance if biobased plastics is something you want to consider. 
MetalsMetals such as aluminium, stainless steel and tin are considered to be excellent eco-friendly skincare packaging options. They’re non-toxic, can be recycled an infinite number of times and can be easily manufactured using processes which aren’t considerably energy intensive.
GlassGlass also performs very well on the eco-rating scale. Not only is glass a very suitable and hygienic option for most skincare products, but it is also both reusable/refillable, has an excellent shelf life and is infinitely recyclable. Glass also requires less energy to recycle (compared to melting raw materials).
Paper/CardboardWhile most skincare products can’t be packaged in paper/cardboard alone, many plastic, glass or metal skincare bottles or tubes are often also packaged or shipped in paper bags or cardboard boxes. Paper is an excellent eco-friendly packaging option as it’s derived from a bio-based renewable source and is reusable, recyclable and biodegradable. While the individual paper fibres of paper or cardboard packaging will degrade slightly over time, it can usually be recycled about eight times before it becomes unsuitable for recycling.Ideally, it’s best to avoid using first-generation paper or cardboard packaging, instead opting for a recycled option.

We’ll Help You Find the Right Packaging Option

At Wild Child, we know that selecting the right type of packaging for your skincare products can be a challenge. While many brands would prefer to use packaging that is as eco-friendly as possible, there are a range of factors that can influence whether that will be the best option for you.

As a full-service skincare manufacturer, the team at Wild Child will walk you through the various pros and cons of a variety of packaging options to help you find the most suitable solution to meet your eco, financial, aesthetic and consumer expectations.

Find out more about skincare manufacturing with Wild Child or get in touch with us to discuss your ideas for a skincare product.