PET Plastic Packaging, the challenge to make it biodegradable
Personal Care and Cosmetics are large users of plastics, virtually all Cosmetic and Personal Care products can be found in a plastic bottle or jar, is it possible we could move to a biodegradable plastic packaging option?
At Naturallythinking we have experimented over the years with Glass, Aluminium and Plastic; trying to find the material which has the lowest impact on the environment, whilst affording the luxury and usefulness required by our customers.
We currently use PET Plastic for the majority of our products as it offers the following properties:
- Lightweight for Transport and Packaging
- Strong and Flexible, minimising additional Packaging required
- Fully recyclable
- Low energy input in recycling
- The Plastic does not leach harmful chemicals if placed in landfill
However, this doesn’t mean that it is without it’s faults. Many plastic bottles and jars do not find their way to recycling facilities for various reasons and with consequences to marine life and the reliance upon oil and finite materials is something that we should be avoiding.
Our Experiences of Aluminium Bottles and Jars
We found with Aluminium bottles they needed additional packing for shipping, which outweighs many of the benefits of the recyclability of the material. The extra packaging was required to stop the aluminium from getting damaged. In addition recycling Aluminium takes a huge amount of energy compared to plastic. Aluminium has to be lined with a special coating to stop it reacting with any water in a product. This is typically an EPE lining, which requires processing and as part of the recycling process. It is difficult to ensure an airtight seal on an aluminium bottle, which also creates problems for stability and rancidity of the Cosmetic product.
Aluminium Jars are more effective for cosmetic products and toiletries. Their shape gives them a strength that the bottle doesn’t have, thus the packaging required in their shipping is far less.
Our Experiences with Glass
Glass is one of the most readily recyclable packaging options, however when used for Cosmetic Packaging it has the following limitations:
- Heavy weight makes it environmentally expensive in shipping
- Requires additional packaging in shipping to ensure the packaging does not break
- Limited ranges of closures, which still need to be plastic
- Customers aren’t all comfortable using glass in their bathroom, especially if they have children / elderly using the same bathroom.
- A lot of energy is required to recycle
Moving forward, PCR and BioPET Plastic Bottles and Jars
As we can see there is not one perfect solution for packaging, however this doesn’t mean that we can just decide to keep things as they are as we all have a responsibility to our environment and future generations.
Throughout 2018 we will me increasing the levels of PCR (Post Consumer Waste) used within our PET Plastic bottles. By increasing this, we are using more recycled material in our bottles, however it is our cooperation with our packaging partner on BioPET plastic that offers the most exciting prospects.
By using BioPET we will be incorporating 30% renewable plant based material (starch, glucose, vegetable oils and cellulose). The challenge and aim is then to move to 100% bio-based PET, which we will be introducing as the stability and efficacy become available.
Bulk and Refills
We are looking at options for Bulk and Refill containers. Long term we want to eliminate the 5 Litre containers for bulk products and replace them with biodegradable pouches. We are currently testing the stability of all our prouducts in these containers and providing the results are as we expect will be launching these, alongside some refill ranges of all our products to minimise final waste.
Although the world has found itself in a bit of a bad place with packaging waste, these are exciting times where public opinion and economics are driving new innovation to create sustainable bottles, jars and packaging for cosmetics and toiletries.