Refill systems – Zero waste in cosmetics?
Less plastic & waste: Reusable containers for body care products
A frequent problem of natural cosmetics is that their ingredients are of premium quality and that they do not need any artificial or critical additives, but that the product itself comes in a disposable container made of plastic. In order to reduce excess amounts of plastic waste, some manufacturers increasingly rely on refill systems to promote zero waste in cosmetics.
Refill systems using glass instead of plastic
Reusable containers are widely accepted and used for beverages. So why shouldn’t zero waste work for cosmetics as well? As the refill systems of some manufacturers of conventional, near-natural luxury cosmetics demonstrate, refillable containers work perfectly well for cosmetic products – even though they are still in limited use. A sophisticated system of reusable containers that is convenient for consumers at the same time is definitely a more sustainable alternative to the current throw-away policy. But can the waste issued be resolved completely? What also needs to be considered are the disadvantages of this type of containers: both their handiness and weight greatly differ from those of plastic containers. In addition, glass is only sustainable when the containers are washed and refilled. Melting glass containers for reuse would rather be a disadvantage than a benefit in terms of energy consumption.
Strict zero waste policy hardly possible in cosmetics
Full compliance with the zero-waste principle in cosmetics is turning out to be a double-edged sword. On the one hand, the trend to use fewer disposable plastic containers is a good thing, but on the other refill systems such as glass bottles consume energy and resources as well and eventually have an impact on the eco-balance. One of the most important aspects of sustainability can be found in the ingredients of the cosmetic products anyway: sustainable packaging materials for natural cosmetics are the icing on the cake, while refill systems do not make environmentally harmful and unhealthy ingredients in conventional cosmetics any better.
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