One of the challenges of being a small company is that we have never had much clout (and thus choice) when it comes to buying the jars and bottles that we put our skincare into. There have been many times when we’ve found the most gorgeous packaging, only to discover that the minimum order quantity was far beyond our reach.
We then tie ourselves in further knots when we apply our policy of local sourcing and treading lightly... Our new natural makeup range was a case in point. To find packaging that ticked all the boxes of aesthetics, non-virgin plastic and European origin took us about three years.
Fortunately for our skincare and haircare packaging, things have become easier in recent years. We have been nibbling away at our main supplier - in our home county of Suffolk – to increasingly use recycled rather than virgin plastic. Not that we wield that much influence I suspect, but another milestone was reached this week now that we have persuaded them to make our 20g jars from post industrial regrind. This now means all Essential Care jars except the Coconut Candy Scrub will be made from recycled plastic (as well as our bodywash and shampoo bottles)*.
Very nice you might say, but what about using glass? Making recycled plastic in fact requires a very similar energy input to making virgin glass, (and considerably - about seven times on average - less than virgin plastic)**. Plastics are also lighter to transport and safer for children’s products and in slippy bathrooms. Moreover, the vast majority of cosmetic glass packaging is made in Italy or Asia and we can’t bring ourselves to cart glass bottles all that distance when we have a great recycled plastics supplier “up the road”. Hence why we don’t use more glass.
The only slight downside is aesthetics. Our recycled ‘white’ 20g jars are likely to appear a bit greyish because they’re made from recycled rather than virgin materials. I guess you can’t have everything. So please don’t worry if your next Calendula Balm or Soothing Salve arrives in an off-white pot; it is spotlessly clean, and just a bit more ‘green’.
Our aim is for all of our packaging to be made from recycled materials in the next couple of years. We’re getting there...happily quite quickly rather than steadily!
*Please note that all of our product boxes are made from sustainably sourced card and most are printed on recycled card. Much of the packaging and filling material we send orders out in is also re-used or recycled.
**Source: Relative Production Energy Chart, Alliance for Environmental Innovation, 2001