Sustainable packaging: tips from an expert

Last week Moscow hosted the first international exhibition of natural cosmetics Eco Beauty Expo. Valeria Korosteleva, founder of the Sobirator project and expert on separate waste collection, was one of the key speakers at the trade fair and shared her expertise on sustainable cosmetics packaging. We took notes of her report and made a convenient list for you, starting with the most eco-friendly options.

▫️Zero packaging
The most environmentally friendly packaging is its absence. Many cosmetic products can be bought in a solid format: shampoos, soaps, even toothpaste.

Glass has the smallest eco-footprint throughout the cycle. The material can be recycled endlessly. Plus it is highly inert, i.e. it doesn’t interreact with the environment.  

Metal packaging is very good at preserving product properties and can be recycled endlessly.

▫️HDPE bottles (marked "02")
This plastic is easily recyclable and there are numerous recyclers that accept this type of plastic. The downside is that you can recycle it only a limited number of times. 

▫️PET-jars/bottles (marked "01")
PET is highly recyclable but has a short recycling cycle. Once recycled PET cannot be used for food packaging.

▫️PP-jars (marking "05")
Polypropylene is highly recyclable. But it has a significant disadvantage - it is difficult to separate from other recyclables.

▫️Tetrapack, Doypack (stand-up pouch) and other composite packaging, ziplock bags
Tetrapack, composite paper and doypacks are the worst choice for packaging. Such packaging is difficult to recycle. Plastic jars with metal lids are also not an option. It is better to make packaging entirely from one material.

Stop list
Do not use dispensers - they are made of plastic, metal and glass and thus are difficult to recycle. Avoid laminated paper, sachets and other small packages. Don't use shrink wrap - it's made from PVC and can't be recycled. Why use paper boxes for plastic tubes? Forget about them. Use bioplastics from plant materials. It has a smaller footprint and is recycled in the same way as regular plastic. Biodegradable plastic is usually fake. Look for compostable plastics labeled OK compost, made from starch and polylactide.