We Need To Talk About The Beauty Industry’s Ugly Plastic Problem

While the beauty industry the industry boasts a $532 billion global economy, but we cannot deny that it generates a tonne of plastic waste day after day.

This plastic waste may end up in our drains and oceans, killing and endangering sea life. You can’t just flush away plastic, they’re not biodegradable and may end up in the stomachs of marine life, eventually killing them.

Source: NBC News

It’s not just the food industry with their polystyrene tapau boxes and plastic straws. The beauty industry must be held accountable for their ugly plastic problem.

Microbeads are not the only plastic component in the beauty industry

Microbeads used to be an essential element in facial scrubs and exfoliants until they were completely banned from US products back in 2017. Canada, New Zealand and UK followed soon after, but microbeads are just one tiny speck in a sea of plastic-related issues. Most products come packaged and wrapped in plastic cases, and they not easily recyclable. In fact, back in 2017, the beauty industry produced 76.8 billion plastic packaging units, not including plastic add-ons like applicators.

We need to change the way we formulate and package beauty products

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@lush.natural.life and Silica vegan protein shampoo are mint to be! “My hair feels clean, and super soft and shiny 😊 I also can’t stop smelling it” Hands up if you’re head over heels for the vegan protein shampoos too! #lushlabs #vegan

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Lush Cosmetics, a natural UK beauty brand gave their shampoo a complete reformulation. Previous shampoos were mostly formulated with water and packaged in plastic bottles. To get rid of the bottle, they’d have to remove the water. Lush formulated a solid bar shampoo that has most of the same ingredients as a traditional shampoo. Australian beauty brand, The Olive Tree has also formulated similar soaps and shampoos. It’s only a matter of time before other brands (hopefully) follow suit.

Other initiatives by the beauty industry

Aside from product reformulations, beauty companies have taken the initiative to encourage their customers to recycle bottles and packaging from beauty products. Innisfree, a Korean beauty brand from Jeju Island has collected over 800,000 bottles through their recycling campaign, which also rewards their members for recycling empty product bottles. Although this means that plastic packaging continues to exist, at least we know that they won’t end up in landfills or the ocean.

The food industry isn’t the only one with an overwhelming plastic problem, the beauty industry must acknowledge their part in it too, and we’re glad that some brands are stepping it up to save Mother Earth.