by Philipp Roth

Cosmetics better packed in plastic or glass? Advantages and disadvantages in detail

When we started producing cosmetics, it was clear to us that it had...
Plastik Glas Kosmetik

When we started producing cosmetics, it was clear to us that it had to be good for people. But what about nature, especially when it comes to packaging waste. Conventional cosmetics manufacturers use plastic for their creams, shampoos and lotions. We on glass. But why actually? 

Unlike a banana or orange, cosmetics are not naturally packaged. And apart from solid bars of soap, care products and cleaning products need a container in which they are brought from A to B and which protects them from external influences for as long as possible.

The legal requirements for packaging are particularly high for cosmetic products. For example, you need to be able to store a face cream without the walls of the packaging softening and its molecules not mixing with the cream. They also have to be lockable so that not too much air gets into the cosmetics.. 

There are different packaging options for these special cosmetic conditions. In addition to plastic and glass, metals, especially aluminum and tinplate, are also available. The metals in particular stand out due to their poor CO2 balance.

Co2 Verpackungen

In terms of CO2 emissions, plastic is significantly better than aluminum, but is still far more critical than glass. Why does the industry still rely so intensively on plastic Let's take a look at plastic and why it is so attractive as a packaging material: 

Plastic: the pros and cons

Plastic does a good job as a packaging material: the plastic is flexible, very durable, light and comes in different strength levels. The basis are the raw materials crude oil, natural gas or coal, the most common use of petrol: chemical processes are used to produce plastic, which is adapted to different needs with additives such as plasticizers and color protection agents.. 

The low price is an important reason why plastic is so attractive to cosmetic manufacturers. The versatile material can be easily manufactured inexpensively.

Plastic is so cheap that almost everything is packed in plastic with a curious matter of course. This also applies to cosmetic products.

Not only lotions are filled in plastic containers, sometimes these packages are wrapped again with cellophane. Sometimes screw caps or pressure dispensers are given an additional, protective plastic cover. And almost always you get all of this embedded in Styrofoam and sent to your home online.

Plastic is so cheap that our industry uses it to repackage pretty much everything. But even if plastic is so cheap and versatile, the following problems are so expensive and extensive.

Plastic is not a perfect packaging material

You should be concerned about the plasticizers and color preservatives alone when buying products wrapped in plastic. But that's not even the big problem with the plastic:

We have had humans since the invention of plastic in the 1950s8.3 billion! Tons of plasticff produced. That's the equivalent of 25,000 Empire State Buildings. And of this amount, only 10 percent has been recycled so far. The rest is lying around as garbage in landfills or swimming in the sea.

We have grown a real garbage problem over the past few decades. You know the pictures of fish dying in six-pack holders or the unspeakably littered beaches.

Plastic can be recycled, but this has to be done as pure as possible and is also costly. While the production of plastic is unbeatably cheap, recycling becomes a problem: The newly won plastic often cannot be used because the original plastic is not properly separated. There is a lack of globally and Europe-wide uniform waste systems so that waste can be separated economically and ecologically.

There are reusable systems for individual types of packaging. Such reusable approaches, for example for PET containers, are less harmful to the environment. The plastic can be recycled according to type, which means that the rubbish is not left lying around and the plastic's CO2 balance can also be improved.

Unfortunately worksReusable plastic in cosmetic products Contamination only to a limited extent: plastics can take on aromas and liquids from cosmetic products and carry them on. This plastic is then no longer suitable for packaging beverages, for example. 

Glass: the better choice for cosmetics 

To get one thing straight: glass is not a perfect packaging material either. But compared to the alternatives it seems to us to be the better solution. Why 

The advantages are:

  • Glass is neutral to its content. Accordingly, it does not absorb any substances from a cream and vice versa.
  • In its dark form, glass lets only little light through, so it is also suitable for light-sensitive cosmetics.
  • The recycling properties of glass are good: as a permanent material, it can be recycled infinitely and completely.
  • Glass is very stable and, above all, durable: no individual substances are released from the material and theoretically a glass container can be millions of years old.

Precisely because glass can be completely recycled, the waste problem behind it is not as enormous as with plastic.

However, it has to make two compromises when it comes to the CO2 balance: The energy requirement for the production of glass is high and would have to be capped by renewables so that glass is as environmentally friendly as possible. In addition, the weight is higher compared to plastic, which is why transport requires more energy.

In the end, the rule is: Better glass and as little plastic as possible

Wherever an alternative to plastic makes sense, we use it. For example, we do not use additional film packaging for our products or use biodegradable filling material when shipping online.

But let's not kid ourselves, because we can't do without plastic. The glass containers for the moisturizing cream, for example, need a dispenser that is made of plastic and is currently not available on the world market made of recycled material. Or we don't want to pack our shampoo and conditioner in glass for safety reasons: Accidents would happen too quickly in the shower. 

In such cases, we use specially recyclable plastic and also work together with our partner plasticbank: This enables us to recycle and neutralize the amount of plastic that we put into circulation.

We ensure that our activities from production to shipping are not only environmentally friendly and climate-neutral, but also go beyond that, so that with every product we manufacture, more is returned to our planet than we have consumed, e.g. a tree for every product sold by sober is planted. We don't want to achieve all of this at some point, but are already implementing it today. This is how we became the first climate-positive cosmetics company in the world.



Leave a comment

Please note, comments need to be approved before they are published.