Sustainable Skincare Packaging Is More Important Than Ever: Here’s Why

Did you know it’s estimated that over 120 BILLION packages are produced each year by the beauty and wellness industry? 

And the statistics on recycling those packaging items? 
Even the ones that get sent to recycling centers?

It’s not good news. 

At Primally Pure we continuously do our research and learn more as a sustainable-minded company. We’ve realized the massive gap in public recycling programs.

Now, we’re not saying that people don’t recycle. There has definitely been a positive increase in awareness + effort. But despite efforts to recycle, most recyclable materials (specifically recyclable beauty products) are not being fully recycled. If even at all. 

There are many reasons these materials don’t get recycled, such as: 

  • Lack of guidelines
  • (Sometimes) human error
  • Lack of machinery
  • Large-scale issues that are not easy to resolve 

So with the new year, we’re launching a new initiative. One that’ll empower you to nourish your skin and respect the planet.

We have an exciting announcement that’s got us feeling inspired, motivated, and ready to crush our 2023 sustainability goals. But first, let’s look at the issues with our current recycling systems + materials. 

The Problem With Most Packaging – Even Sustainable Skincare Packaging

To us, sustainable skincare packaging is necessary if we want to help the environment. It’s one of the key elements in creating less waste. But even with the best intentions, many sustainable + recyclable materials never see a second life. 

Here’s why. 

1. Recyclable materials don't make it through the recycling process.

Only 5% of recyclable items ultimately get recycled and reused.1 If you’ve heard the popular 9% stat, unfortunately, the numbers have gotten worse since then.
This means even many sustainable skincare packaging materials that COULD be recycled, won’t be. 

Instead, they end up:

 In landfills, adding to greenhouse gases2
 Incarcerated, which pollutes the air and adds to greenhouse gases3
  Dumped into the ocean, which already suffers from 8 million tons of trash each year4

So the solution to our waste crisis doesn’t stop at creating sustainable skincare packaging that CAN be recycled. We must play an active role in ensuring our community has an accessible and easy way to recycle.

And when it comes down to it, most people don’t know where to recycle beauty products. We don’t blame them! It’s not widely advertised or discussed. More on this in a bit. ;)

2. There needs to be more easily recyclable designs/materials to make recycling beauty products a painless choice.

Here’s an example of this in action with PP products: we often get questions + requests on our deodorant tubes. Our community asks if we’ll ever switch to a refillable deodorant format. And we totally get the thought process. But after much research, we realized our current format is the most efficient. 

Why? Many refillable formats surprisingly create more waste. 

  • The tubes are made with harder plastic to last longer, making them harder to recycle. 
  • The refills often contain plastic liners too. 

On top of that, paper deodorant tubes aren’t an option for us because we use a high content of nourishing oils that would disintegrate the paper. And sadly, almost all paper tubes still contain a plastic liner anyways.

3. Glass doesn’t always meet the standards for sustainable skincare packaging. 

Many think packaging exclusively in glass would solve all our problems. And while glass is more easily recycled, there are still several issues.

  • Glass containers still require tops and pumps – usually made of hard-to-recycle plastic.
  • Many recycling facilities will only accept (or truly recycle) clear or frosted glass. 

Both these things affect our products at PP. We use amber glass containers for their benefit in protecting the integrity + efficacy of the ingredients. And the pumps and spray tops are essential for our products to function properly.

So sadly, glass is not the sole answer to our pollution problem.

4. Many items – even sustainable skincare packaging – don’t often come with instructions on recycling.

Unless you’re very familiar with the recycling system, it’s often hard to distinguish which plastics can be recycled vs. trashed. Bins are hard to read and many recyclable beauty products are unnumbered or unlabeled. 

All these points considered, a partnership with a seasoned, well-respected organization made sense. After all, we all share the planet we call home. 

Why not work together with others taking active steps to improve the future for everyone? 

Our goal in partnering with Pact was to ensure our sustainable skincare packaging would create a positive impact on our planet.

Why Our Recycling Program Is More Effective Than Normal Recycling

Truthfully, normal recycling can be a toss-up. There’s no real way to ensure your efforts to recycle your sustainable skincare packaging don’t go to waste. 

This program is different. 

They’re helping close the loop by creating solutions to make sustainable skincare packaging fully recyclable.

Pact Is a Well-Respected + Established Organization

Pact has an incredible heart for seeing (and creating) real change in the recycling industry. And more specifically, for beauty products. You can send ANY (yes, any brand!) hard-to-recycle items, like plastics labeled #4,7,3, plastic tubes, and mixed material objects that are often not accepted at public recycling centers.

The Guidelines Are Very Clear

Standard recycling guidelines are fuzzy and convoluted. There’s so much mixed information/directions out there. Not Pact. Check their guidelines here.

Unlike recycling centers, they aren’t limited to numbers, types of containers, colors of plastic and glass, etc. They accept a wide variety of items like:

  • Plastic bottles + jars smaller than a fist
  • Plastic + aluminum squeezable tubes
  • Ceramic + porcelain containers
  • Colored glass bottles and jars
  • Caps + closures
  • Pumps + dispensers
  • Droppers + applicators
  • Compacts + palettes
  • Lipstick/lip gloss tubes + applicators
  • Mascara tubes + wands
  • Plastic pencil components for eye/lip liner + brow pencils
  • Toothpaste tubes + dental floss containers
  • Silicone containers

Pact even gives you a specific list of recyclable items (and sizes) accepted at standard recycling facilities. They explain that many standard recycling machines cannot “grab” smaller items. As a result, those get sent to landfills. That’s why Pact has specifically created a method to recycle + reuse these smaller items. 

The bottom line? Easier process = more sustainable skincare packaging that actually gets recycled as it’s designed to.

How The Recycling Program Works

The whole point of having a recycling program for our sustainable skincare packaging is to make it easier for you to participate. That’s why our process is straightforward + rewards you for taking action for our planet. 

Here’s how to participate:

1. When you’ve finished your product and savored every last drop, visit our recycling page.

2. Fill out the form.

3. Pay small fee of $5 to cover the shipping cost – in exchange for $10 off your next purchase of $20 or more.

 Tip: Pact requires 5-10 empties per shipped package, but we suggest saving as many as possible to maximize the shipping fee.

OR 

If you want to avoid shipping fees altogether, check for a pact drop-off bin near you.

4. If you choose a shipping label, we’ll send you your label via email with specific instructions to ensure your containers are clean + ready for recycling. This step is crucial for Pact to recycle your sustainable skincare packaging correctly, so please pay close attention. :)
 
Tip: Throwing plastic and glass in the dishwasher makes your cleaning step a breeze. Just make sure your plastic products are durable enough, and only put them on the top rack. Glass products are usually all a go.
 
5. Once your item arrives at Pact, we pay the cost of recycling + processing. Our gift to you. Conventional recycling isn’t cutting it anymore. And supporting sustainability matters that much to us.
 

We love that Pact offers full tracking + transparency into their recycling process. We think that’s pretty cool (and unlike any other recycling programs we’ve seen).

Here are a few of the ways Pact repurposes your recyclable and sustainable skincare packaging:5

→ Mechanically recycling into another product (e.g., packaging, carpet, pallets for warehouses). They often sell back to beauty manufacturers, so the loop becomes full circle. From one beauty package to another.

→ Downcycled (into asphalt, for example)

→ Molecular recycled (e.g., reduced to chemical monomers that can then be used to build something else)

→ Waste-to-energy, where packaging that cannot be used in any other way is burned responsibly.

Pretty impressive, right? Count us in.

How to Upcycle Your Sustainable Skincare Packaging as You Collect Your Empties 

Not going through your skincare and beauty products at lightning speed? No problem! We’ve got you covered with some creative ideas for repurposing that sustainable skincare packaging in the meantime. 

  • Plant a mini succulent in your glass jar
  • Make overnight oats with your salt-soak jars
  • Store bulk spices in your glass containers
  • Use spray bottles as vases for herbs or wildflowers
  • Organize small items in drawers (paper clips, bobby pins, Q-tips)
  • Use containers as travel containers (supplements, toothpaste tabs)
  • Store a DIY product (play around with making your own concoctions, spice mix, or herbed grass-fed butter)

If you’re feeling inspired, check out our post on how to repurpose your containers for more unique ideas + inspiration.

Take Your Sustainable Skincare Packaging to the Next Level With a Simple + Rewarding System

From soil to skin, and back again. We want to protect our precious planet while nourishing your skin. 

That’s our goal + our focus. From the products you use to the choices we make for sustainable skincare packaging and its end-of-life cycle.

It’s why we’ve partnered with Pact – to create lasting change and support circular systems of sustainable actions. We think it’s pretty remarkable how they’re bringing together the beauty industry – to work together to repurpose sustainable skincare packaging and give it new life. 

Ready to give your empties new life? 

They’ll thank you, and so will the planet.

XO



Sources:

  1. Green Peace | Circular Claims Fall Flat Again 2022
  2. CBS News | Landfills Are “Super Emitters” of Powerful Greenhouse Gas Methane, Satellite Data Finds  
  3. National Geographic | Is Burning Plastic Waste a Good Idea?
  4. Time | ​​Here's How Much Plastic Ends Up In the World's Oceans
  5. Pact | What Happens to the Packaging That Goes to Pact?



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