Sustainable cosmetic packaging: the guidelines of Cosmetica Italia and Aliplast in a White Paper, developed to guide the sector towards fully recyclable and, perhaps, already recycled plastic packaging.
An aesthetically refined packaging, but also recyclable. Capable of enhancing the functionality of the product, and, at the same time, useful for eliminating waste. If for a long time the packaging of cosmetic products struggled to keep together commercial and environmental reasons, today the principles of circular economy guide much of the innovation in the beauty sector. The partnership between Cosmetica Italia – National Association of Cosmetics Companies and Aliplast , European leader in recycled plastic, a Hera Group company, was born in this context.
On the occasion of the second edition of Milan Beauty Week (26 September – 2 October 2023), the two companies presented the white paper “Plastic packaging in the cosmetics sector”, a practical guide to help companies in the sector to fully design plastic packaging recyclable, in line with the most recent regulatory guidelines of the European Union and with the sensitivity of a market increasingly attentive to the protection of the environment and its resources.
Eco-design of plastic packaging: practical indications
Consistent with the guidelines of Recyclass and SPICE (Sustainable, Packaging Initiative for CosmEtics), European initiatives of plastic recyclers and the cosmetics industry, the document provides very important operational indications to guide the eco-design choices of polymeric containers for cosmetics.
Eco-design of plastic packaging: practical indications Consistent with the guidelines of Recyclass and SPICE (Sustainable, Packaging Initiative for CosmEtics), European initiatives of plastic recyclers and the cosmetics industry, the document provides very important operational indications to guide the eco-design choices of polymeric containers for cosmetics.
Make every plastic fully recyclable. First of all, the paper briefly clarifies the steps of the collection, selection and recycling processes of plastic materials. We then go into detail about the containers made with the different types of polymer: HDPE/PP, PET, PE/PP. For each one, indications are provided on how to design each component of the packaging: main body, closure system, color of the container, barrier layers, labelling, use of decoration inks.
Avoid multilayers and pay attention to colors. The range of indications is very broad. Some apply to all materials. For example, it is always advisable to design the main body in a single material, avoiding a multilayer structure composed of multiple polymers, which make recyclability more difficult. Others are specific. As for HDPE or PP, all colors are accepted, except pigments that are not detectable by the readers of plastic sorting systems, such as carbon black. In any case, it is always preferable to use light colors for the container, because it is easier to use once transformed into recycled plastic. For the closure systems of PET packaging, the use of polyolefin-based materials is recommended, to ensure their separability from the PET container. Furthermore, the use of metal components (such as springs or balls present in pumps or sprayers) should be avoided as they cause wear on the machines and in some cases can stop recycling operations. But these are just some of the detailed guidelines present in the paper.
Dedicated collections for smaller packages. The White Paper also deals with container sizing. Today, in fact, make-up packaging in particular, although they fully comply with the rules of design for recycling, are mostly excluded from the classic recycling path, because they are too small to be intercepted by screens and ballistic separators of the selection plants. For these, therefore, dedicated collections could be envisaged at the points of sale, perhaps leaving the cap attached to the packaging itself.
Impact reduced by two thirds using recycled plastic. Another focus is on the use of recycled plastics for the production of packaging, which can have significant environmental advantages in terms of saving resources and decarbonisation. The document, for example, cites a Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) study by Aliplast which certifies that a PET granule from virgin material emits approximately triple the impact on CO2 emissions compared to the same granule deriving from recycled PET (3.04 kg versus 1.25 kg of CO2 equivalent). This is an environmental benefit which, if communicated transparently to the consumer, can add effective value to the good.
Together to create culture and spread knowledge
As Carlo Andriolo, CEO of Aliplast, reiterated : « The White Paper created together with Cosmetica Italia is an opportunity for the entire beauty supply chain, which is experiencing a strong evolution towards increasingly circular products and attentive to the use of resources. However, it is not the first time that Aliplast has made its know-how available for this strategic Made in Italy market. In fact, we have long been alongside various companies in the sector to develop innovative packaging solutions in recycled plastic, also thanks to the Aliplast Lab, in which we co-design together with our customers products which in terms of aesthetics and technical characteristics are equal to virgin ones » .
« Sustainability is a priority and at the same time a responsibility for our sector » comments Benedetto Lavino, president of Cosmetica Italia . « It is in fact a topic closely related to innovation (in which the cosmetics industry invests 6% of its turnover every year) and to the development of the industry. Attention to the environment is an aspect on which we are called to act both as individuals and to respond to an awareness that is increasingly rooted in consumers. There are numerous initiatives undertaken by companies, but the role of the Association is also of fundamental importance in encouraging the diffusion, among its associated companies, of a culture and knowledge of issues related to sustainable development. In particular, the white paper created with Aliplast allows us to think with a supply chain approach that is decisive and strategic in addressing the different facets and challenges of sustainability .”