Beauty Industry Waste Secrets: Uncovered

Beauty Industry Waste Secrets: Uncovered

Sustainability for our planet is on the rise, and more people are beginning to notice day by day. In fact, statistically, 66% of female UK beauty buyers aged 16-24 want further information on environmentally friendly products.

With immense pressure in every industry to be less wasteful, the beauty and cosmetics industry has not yet really come under fire.

Interested in learning about the problem? Keep reading.


The Culprits

  1. Microbeads:

Perhaps one of the biggest modern issues with the beauty industry, microbeads are small pieces of plastic found in beauty and skin care products.

You'd be surprised at how many products contained these beads, and though you may wonder why they matter if so small, they actually have been pinpointed as major problems for our oceans and seas.


Once these beads are washed down drains through product, they easily get into waterways as many wastewater treatment plants cannot filter them out. Essentially, this means toxic substances are easily accessible for our wildlife to consume and pass on throughout the food chain.


 Lotion falling and moisturising hand

Photo by Ian Dooley on Unsplash

In June 2018, the UK put a sales ban on microbeads in cosmetics by law, a step previously taken by other countries such as the US.

Despite this being a positive step in the right direction, the ban does not completely cover all skincare products, with large brands claiming it would be expensive to reformulate a majority of their products.
But is it not worth it for the environmental crisis?


  1. Packaging

According to Euromonitor, the beauty sector produces 120 billion units of packaging waste a year. In 2018, this statistic was exceeded with a staggering 142 billion units of packaging ending up in landfills or oceans.

In the digitalised world, it is easy to see how this much waste is quickly produced. YouTube and social media are vital tools for the beauty industry, with top beauty brands using each as a tool for promotion, and these platforms encourage a higher demand for packaging.

How many times have you seen unboxing videos on YouTube or Instagram?

Unboxing videos create a demand for extravagant packaging, a demand which ultimately creates more waste than necessary. As people are increasingly more concerned about the packaging of a product, brands spend more money on packaging. This can include things like:
- Bubble wrap
- Polystyrene

Bubble wrap is non-biodegradable and often used as cushioning when sending out products. If you're sending out products/packages, look here for alternative materials:
Similarly, manufacturing polystyrene creates major amounts of hazardous waste. If this material isn't disposed of properly, it has the implication of spreading chemicals into the environment through the foam which can get into our water sources.


  1. Makeup wipes

The UK alone is accountable for 10.8 billion wet wipes and - unknown to oblivious users - 93% of blocked sewage pipes in the UK are down to this pesky product! Last year, sewer build ups in London even reached the size of 11 double-decker buses.

As I'm sure you're aware, there are plenty alternatives for makeup wipes that you could consider using. Not only are alternatives better for the environment, but they often work out cheaper too! A few of these alternatives include:
- Micellar Water
- Soap and water

Sure, it may be easy to take a pack of makeup wipes with you if you're travelling, at a festival, staying over someone's house or just generally want a quick way of wiping off makeup, but other methods can be just as easy.


 An environmentally friendly beauty routine

Photo by Kevin Laminto on Unsplash
Even if you don't want to ditch the makeup wipe method, there are brands which distribute biodegradable makeup wipes, so try and opt for these on the shelves when you're next out!

Whilst it is good for you to make sure you're helping the planet, all issues mentioned need to be looked at from a distribution level in order to make a real difference.

By lowering the demand for products that are wasteful, you can make your difference.

Additionally, if you want to go one step further, public pressure from consumers is proven as an effective way of getting brands to listen.

With that in mind, here's to a hopefully more sustainable 2020 in the beauty industry.

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