8 MIN READ
At Susteau, sustainability is part of our brand DNA. We recognize there is a significant negative environmental impact associated with product packaging in the beauty industry and that’s only part of what we’re looking to change. With respect to packaging, we design our products to high sustainability standards from conception to what happens when you’re done with your bottle.
Packaging innovation has progressed tremendously over the years and we remain hopeful that we will see an influx of better-for-the-planet packaging options in the next few years. We are committed to finding the most sustainable cosmetic packaging options available that do not compromise on safety, product integrity or the experience of using a product. At Susteau, we are taking responsibility for what we create, so that it’s easier for you to responsibly dispose of it when you’re done.
Reduce > Reuse > Recycle
Reduce: How Our Waterless Formulas Drive Packaging Reduction
Reduce comes before reuse + recycle, so let’s start this topic by discussing how we reduce the need for packaging at Susteau. Our waterless products are unique to the haircare market, so we custom-developed our packaging to not only be compatible with the powder formulas, but also meet our sustainability standards without compromising our desired look and feel. We all still want a cute minimalist shelfie right?
Even though our packaging may look like just a another bottle from the outside, our waterless approach to beauty allows us to reduce the amount of packaging needed overall. It’s a concentrated product- it’s that simple.
Take our Moondust Hair Wash as an example. One bottle is the equivalent of 4 bottles of 8oz liquid shampoo (1 liter of liquid shampoo).
Our bottle + cap that we use for Moondust Hair Wash weighs about 22.5 grams.
A 1L bottle with a pump weighs ~81 grams. That’s a 72% reduction in plastic.
4, 8oz tubes with a flip top cap weighs ~106.5 grams. That’s a 78% reduction in plastic.
4, 8oz bottles weigh even more than tubes, and pumps weigh more than flip top caps, but we won’t go there. You get it.
Reduce: How Our Ecommerce Packaging Decisions Reduce Waste
Susteau launched as a direct-to-consumer brand selling products online shipping directly to you. In March 2021, we eliminated our secondary packaging when shopping with us. Why? It creates unnecessary waste. Additionally, secondary packaging increases the size of the ecommerce mailers we use and increases weight during shipping. We are able to deliver you all the information you need to use our products safely and effectively on our website. We include one single handout with ingredient information during shipping and no secondary packaging.
Reuse: Our Ocean-Bound Recycled Plastic
We use repurposed plastics not only because they reduce the number of plastics ending up in our oceans, but also because they produce a smaller carbon footprint during production. We partner with Envision Plastics to source our recycled, ocean-bound plastic resin for our primary packaging components. According to a report done by The Association of Plastic Recyclers (APR), recycled plastics cut carbon emissions by 71%, and water consumption by 59% over virgin HDPE plastics.
Our bottles are made up of over 95% ocean-bound post consumer resin (PCR), meaning we use plastics that were once in danger of entering and polluting our oceans. We recently discussed more on ocean-bound PCR and its environmental impact here.
What about that other 5%? This is where we are pushing for transparency. 100% recycled plastics rarely exist- adding a colorant usually accounts for 1% to 3% of the plastic composition. We can confidently say that our bottles contain over 95% recycled plastic and we won’t claim more since colorant needed for a manufacturing run of recycled plastic varies from batch to batch.
Lastly, our flip top caps have different specifications than our bottles. Our caps are made with 10% ocean-bound PCR– the maximum percentage possible to fully preserve the structural integrity and performance of the hinge so that it lasts long enough for you to finish the bottle.
Recycle: Design for the Environment
We design our packaging with sustainability in mind and in engineering practice this is called design for the environment (DFE). Our bottle and cap are uniquely designed for end-of-life to make it easier for you to responsibly recycle the packaging. Our packaging is a mono-material, meaning the entire packaging system is made from the same general material (glass, plastic, aluminum). Most of the time, even if a bottle is recyclable, a cap or pump is not. We wanted to make sure all our components could be easily recycled.
We chose to utilize HDPE plastic not only because it’s a good moisture barrier to keep our powders dry, but also because it’s Type 2 plastic. Type 2 plastic can be easily recycled in most parts of the US through a curbside recycling program or anywhere in the US through a specialty recycling program. HDPE is the most recycled plastic, the easiest plastic to recycle and can be recycled at least 10 times, which has resulted in a valuable resale market for the material.
We get asked often why we don't use the following materials, so we want to elaborate on this.
Paper Box/Pouch: To make paper products resistant to moisture on the exterior, a finish often has to be applied that will then make the finished paper good unable to be recycled. Even to offer a refill in a paper pouch, they often contain interior coatings or linings that act as a moisture barrier and make that packaging unrecyclable. There are some recent developments in recyclable and biodegradable options in this space that we are paying close attention to for future packaging opportunities.
Glass Bottle: The main issue here is product safety. We don’t put our powders in glass since they are used in a shower environment and that poses a safety risk. Our products are also designed to be travel friendly. In terms of product use, we need a flexible package that allows for the product to easily be dispensed with a light squeeze. Lastly, glass is very heavy and across the entire supply chain much more packaging material is necessary in order to ensure the glass bottle would not break. Lastly, caps and pumps on glass bottles almost never get recycled curbside unless the dimensions are greater than 2 inches in 2 dimensions and a Type 1 or 2 monomaterial, like plastic.
Aluminum Bottle: A few of the same reasons we can’t use glass are the same reasons we don’t use aluminum. Bottle flexibility and recyclability of the dispensing component.
Question about our packaging? Feel free to reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Image Source: Susteau commissioned by 22 Tigers
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