When I was a child (and I’m not that old, unless you ask my daughter), it was almost the norm to see people dispose of rubbish freely without a second thought. Recycling was not heard of, or at least not a mainstream topic.

Over the last decade, the sustainability of packaging has come to now be one of the top points raised when talking with a brand decision maker about their packaging selection.

Sustainable packaging is a growing market (and increasing annually) across three distinct segments – Recycle (which covers recyclable and recycled), Reusable and Degradables.

Let’s face it, looking after the environment is a no-brainer – after all, it’s the air we live and breathe. Which is why, you’ll be glad to know, that sustainability in packaging not only helps reduce impact on the environment but can also increase your sales and improve your bottom line – when done right.

Here’s the thing, over the past decade we’ve seen the buying power of the eco conscious consumer grow. It’s been the biggest driver in the sustainable packaging market. The 18 to 34 demographic have increased buying power for cosmetics and tend to lock in with brands that are socially responsible in their messages and their packaging. In fact in a number of studies, this demographic are shown to care more about what the product says about them than how much it costs.

Just recently in our business, we worked with a certified organic range of skin care products. We undertook to not only package their products in recyclable packaging – but also calculate the carbon footprint of the packaging, so that we could communicate this to our clients target market. Ultimately, this gave our client a clear point of difference over their competitors.

Ways you can make your packaging more sustainable –


There are a number of ways to reduce the packaging used to present the goods to market and to ship the goods to the customer. This not only reduces cost to the manufacturer but also reduces the environmental footprint of the product.

When it comes to Skincare, there has to be a balance between reducing and maintaining the presentation of the product to meet consumer’s expectations – whilst improving the product (and brand) for the entire shelf life.


It’s great to reuse parts of packaging, to reduce landfill.  Whether that’s a refill pack that is sold alongside a consumer reusable pack or another idea. The drawback here though, can be if cross contamination occurs. The consumer may not be so diligent washing out the previous batch, which can give a negative impact on the refilled product.


We’ve all been exposed to biodegradable products, right? Over the years we’ve had the privilege of working with a lot with various packaging solutions that are biodegradable. What I can tell you is that some work a lot better than others.  What we’ve found is that it depends if the degradable packaging has to come into contact with liquids, light, etc. Most importantly, what is the active element that is designed to start the degrading process.

We’ve found that the degrading options still have some short term obstacles, over the next few decades – as more blending of materials that allow packaging to break down, combined with other materials that can hold the features required are perfected and processed more easily.


Traditional recycling is likely to remain the main target for sustainable packaging for the short to medium future. More avenues are opening up for recycled plastics, for example:  to reuse recycled material in more everyday items.

At the recent Rio Olympics there was recycled material used in team uniforms, in all the Olympic medals and in various sculptures used in and around the city to promote the games.

Recyclable packaging allows product stability with important active ingredients, but still has the message that the brand is not willing to compromise on the environment to package their product.

Bottom line. There is so much information available about the environmental impact of packaging. It’s even being seen in mainstream media more and more. So you really now must start to think and promote your products in a sustainable or environmentally responsible way. After all, this is what your consumers want.

Additional Resources:

Over the last 20 years we’ve built a number of great resources on the recyclability of different plastics. I’m more than happy to share these with you – so you can move forward confidently with the packaging choices (you decide) for your product. Simply reach out on 07 55970102 or [email protected]

As always, I welcome your feedback and specific requests for any packaging evaluations that our team may be able to help you with.