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What to Watch: Sustainability Quotient Grows for Cosmetics Packaging

Manufacturers are stepping up their quest for more ecological solutions in the European Union.

PARIS — Cosmetics packaging manufacturers will continue whittling down the amount of plastics they use throughout 2019, as brands, customers and legislation push for a new, more ecological normal. A single-use plastics directive was adopted at the European Union level by the European Parliament and Council in June, for instance.

The directive “promotes circular approaches that give priority to sustainable and nontoxic reusable products and reuse systems rather than to single-use products, aiming first and foremost to reduce the quantity of waste generated.”

Member states have until July 3, 2021, to comply with most of the directive’s previsions.

“With this new directive, brands and consumers will have to change their habits, and on our side right now, we are studying new material alternatives to plastic and refillable options, as well as different ways to keep your packaging for more than one use,” said Denis Maurin, executive vice president of sales and innovation at HCT Group.

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The company, for instance, is working on refillable concepts with a primary component out of highly durable materials, such as metal, which could become a collectible item.

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“Refillable packaging has always been around, but never really sold very well,” he said. “Brands need to plan in advance and start working on new developments now. Also, it will be a challenge to change consumer behavior, as most consumers like to buy brand new product, with clean, new packaging.

“It will also be very important for the brand to provide education and to incentivize refill packages, so that consumers are more inclined to go this route,” continued Maurin. “We are also increasing testing on bio-based materials and other alternatives to plastics.”

A broader, yet more far-off goal to gun for in the EU involves all plastic packaging being recyclable by 2030.

“All plastic packaging will have to be recyclable, reusable or compostable,” explained Nando Cutarella, Aptar’s director for EHS and sustainability beauty + home EMEA. “Our commitment is to fulfill these requirements by 2025, and this is why we signed with the Ellen MacArthur Foundation. Our R&D departments are working on the implementation of post-recycling resins.”

He said the main challenges in reaching the goal include that post-consumer resins don’t yet meet customers’ regulatory requirements and regulations.

“The waste-stream collection, sorting and recycling stream isn’t at a level sufficient to manage the end-of-life of the packaging at a level that enables [us] to respect our commitment and 2030 legislation requirements, but it will probably progress in the next years,” Cutarella said.

Other hurdles involve creating new partnerships and reviewing the business model.

This is no throw-away trend.

“We noticed a lot of interest in sustainable packaging in general,” Maurin said. “Brands and their marketing teams have to take the time to learn about and understand what options they have in order to be better for the environment.”