With no surprise, Sustainable Packaging has become one of the most frequently asked topics. You constantly ask if there are other purchasing alternatives that might eliminate the use of another plastic container. Or, if perhaps we’ve considered using a different packaging material that’s not plastic. We hear you, and we’ve put hours and hours into research to fully understand the challenge and how we can approach it better.
We’ve learnt so much that we can understand that much controversy comes from general misunderstandings. There’s so much global information about it, that it’s easy to end up tangled. So first let’s define the challenge:
What’s the Best packaging material for Cosmetic products in Australia?
This leaves us with 3 alternatives: Glass, Aluminium and Plastic
Glass: Seems to be the top-of-mind option for most of us. And although it IS a great option, in Australia the Glass Recycling industry is none existent. Why? Because at the moment it is cheaper to buy glass from overseas to buy recycled glass locally. This means that there’s no business in recycling it because no one is going to pay for it.
Actions are being taken to help solve the problem. Just recently glass has been converted back to sand for construction purposes, but unfortunately, this is not enough to recycle the amount that’s being consumed. Nowadays, glass bottles are just being piled up in landfills.
Aluminium: Probably THE best material when it comes to recycling. It is a lightweight product, so the transportation footprint is lower than the other materials, plus it can be recycled by almost 100%.
The Challenge: Production and Sturdiness.
Production-only a handful of manufacturers have the technology required for sealing aluminium tubes. In contrast with plastic ones that are filled and sealed with heat; aluminium tubes are filled and then rolled to seal. For companies like us- when you already have long-time established relations with manufacturers, it becomes a challenge to change your manufacturing provider, process and location. Although this becomes the least of the worries when you face the second challenge.
Sturdiness- Aluminium packaging can be easily damaged. The outside surface can easily dent, bent or perforate. For efficient transportation, extra wrapping material would be required. Extra wrap equals more waste. I’m sure many of you wouldn’t mind buying a bit of a bruised container, but for stores and some consumers, product presentation is EVERYTHING. We actually got to experience this first hand, as after we rebranded, our sales skyrocketed because peopled loved the look of our new packaging. Looks are KEY in the cosmetic industry.
Plastic: Before making the final judgement on this material, its important to understand there are different types of it. Single-use plastic like (recently banned) shopping bags are one of the most commonly found plastics in our oceans. Why? Because most councils don’t accept this plastic in their recycling process, so in order to efficiently recycle them you need to take it back to big shops (like Coles) where they have special collection bins. Very limited recycling options for such a widely use plastic.
Now let’s talk about the type of plastic we use in A bit Hippy. Our Shampoo, Conditioner, Wash and Bubble Bath bottles are made of PET. PET (Polyethylene Terephthalate) is 100% recyclable and is the most widely recycled plastic in the world! In contrast with glass, there’s a huge industry behind PET making sure it gets recycled as it means money. For this reason, we believe that until recycling industries like glass evolve in Australia, or we find a more efficient way to work with aluminium, PET bottles are the best option for our products.
We’ve also considered doing re-fillable pouches, but these can’t be recycled and unless they are refilled twice they actually have a higher environmental impact. Bigger containers, we’re unto that one and probably will be rolling out by next year. A common suggestion is to create solid Shampoo, Conditioner and Wash bars. We’ve looked into them too and discussed with our formulator, but A bit Hippy’s effective scalp formulas can’t be created in a form of a solid bar.
As always, we’re open to your suggestions and comments. Perhaps you know of another material that can work better now that you’ve understand the challenges we face. Can’t wait to read your comments.