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Eight companies that found innovative ways to tackle waste in the beauty industry

Camilla Rydzek
03 February 2022

Every year more than 120 billion units of packaging are produced globally for the cosmetics industry, according to data by Zero Waste Week. The subsequent waste of this packaging is a huge problem for the industry, especially as research by the UN has shown that less than 10% of all plastic waste ever created has been recycled.

Beauty products themselves are also being discarded before they reach their expiration date, creating a separate waste stream from packaging. All the while sales of ethical cosmetics increased by 11% to £976 million last year according to Co-op’s annual Ethical Consumerism Report, signifying a shift in consumer attitudes.

From biodegradable eyeliners, to mushroom-grown packaging and anti-waste operations, here are eight brands that have found new and innovative ways to tackle waste in the beauty industry, in packaging and beyond.

Tackling Product Waste 


Sprout World
The eco-pencil brand (main image) created its first patented, plantable eyeliner late last year, forgoing the microplastics that are typically used in the beauty product. Consumers can place the soluble cellulose seed capsule in soil, and with frequent water they can grow bee-friendly wildflowers, the brand said. Produced using 100% natural and ethically sourced materials, the idea was developed from the brand's Sprout Pencil, which follows the same concept.

The French skincare brand has launched an anti-waste operation in the UK, France and USA to reduce the number of beauty products that are discarded as they approach their expiration date. Founded in 2014, its focus is creating products that support a healthy microbiome. For Boxing Day last year it introduced a discounting system that allowed customers to add a code to the purchase of specific products with an expiration date approaching. Products were then discounted by up to 70%, with the brand hoping to ensure that items that are "still perfectly safe to use for many months" are not discarded unnecessarily.

Refillable Packaging 

Glow Recipe Plum refillable pods

Glow Recipe
Glow Recipe launched its Plum Plump Hyaluronic Cream with a new modular packaging, making it easier for recycling and refilling. The cream is housed in a pink-coloured round glass container, which in turn contains a small pod that contains the cream and can be easily snapped in and out of the outer packaging. This makes it very easy to replace the little pod, allowing customers to refill the product without hassle. The cream retails for £35 and a refill post for £30, making refilling a cheaper alternative for consumers.

The sustainable and natural deodorant brand has disrupted the market with its refillable packaging and reduces single-use plastics. Late last year it announced new partnerships with some of the UK’s leading supermarkets, retailers and department stores aiming to make its products more widely available. It’s now sold across 285 Sainsbury's stores, trialled in 30 Waitrose stores, Selfridges and 19 Boots stores.

Haircare brand Alott’s products are not only formulated with vegan, naturally-derived and organic formulations but also focus on reducing plastic waste by using reusable and refillable aluminium and glass containers, solid bars that come in recycled and recyclable packaging and recycling-friendly refill pouches. The brand now offers a range of products, including shampoo, conditioner, and sea-salt spray. It also offers a monthly subscription option for added convenience.

Alternative Packaging Materials 

Biota Haeckels

The sustainable skincare label features a grown-to-order range, which recently expanded to Christmas gift sets. These are housed in fully compostable packaging, that Haeckels grows from mycelium, the underground root structure of mushrooms.

Skincare brand Naya launched its Everyday Essentials Kit in a compostable gift box made from mushrooms. The kit is 100% biodegradable, recyclable and compostable, made of Mycelium. The gift set also uses 100% recycled glass and labels made from stone paper.

Estée Lauder
The Estée Lauder Company announced its collaboration with the Pulpex partner consortium to develop a recyclable paper bottle made from responsibly sourced pulp. The paper bottle is designed to be widely recyclable in standard waste streams and will support The Estée Lauder Companies’ efforts to reduce the environmental impact of its packaging.

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