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‘Beyond packaging materials’: How can beauty brands rethink sustainability strategies and ‘recapture value’?

By Amanda Lim

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags beauty broadcast Sustainability Packaging

Beauty brands are being urged to overhaul their sustainability strategies beyond the linear lifecycle of packaging in order to meet consumer expectations and regulatory demands.

In an era where sustainability remains a top concern for beauty consumers globally, the beauty industry finds itself under increasing pressure from environmentally conscious consumers as well as regulation.

For instance, as Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) becomes a focal point in the legislative landscape, companies are challenged to take responsibility for their brands from production onwards.

Addressing this challenge, Spencer Ball, creative director of design agency SGK, suggested that a pivotal starting point is looking upstream.

This means tackling issues at their source rather than merely mitigating downstream consequences.

This way, the focus shifts from immediate concerns such as packaging materials to broader considerations.

“The right thing to do is start looking upstream. Instead of just looking at the immediate problem with the material, for example, start thinking about other factors that affect the downstream as well. If we think about things like inks, finishes, additional colour features, and varnishes – some of those things actually prevent things from being recycled,” ​said Ball.

Shifting trends and new solutions

Recent years have witnessed a growing trend toward the development of solid or anhydrous beauty products which have a reduced environmental impact.

Not only does this enable manufacturers to rethink of packaging materials but it also addresses carbon costs associated with transporting heavy liquids.

Once you change the product format, then you're in a position to completely rethink your packaging format as well… we're seeing lots of interesting brands growing around those kind of solutions.

However, the transition to new product formats poses challenges in terms of usability, efficacy, and costs.

Ball encouraged brands to consider beyond the linear life cycle of packaging and exploring opportunities for reuse and recycling.

“You're investing all this money in creating a piece of packaging – building and designing and actually engineering that piece of packaging. What are the opportunities to recapture that value? How can it be returned or reused and recycled? And often, it's as simple as it sounds. It’s an obvious answer but quite often, it's just something that's overlooked.”

While plastic is often criticised for its environmental impact, Ball suggested that it could be part of the solution when used thoughtfully. This approach seeks to maximize the value of plastic, emphasising the importance of designing products that can be used again and again.

“Using plastic in the right way actually can be the solution. And instead of designing it to be used once, we can just design it to be used perpetually. And we recapture the value in that. Plastic lasts forever – we can use it again and again.”

For more insights, check out the video above.

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