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How Big Cosmetic Brands Are Joining Forces to Reduce Waste

The cosmetics industry produces a lot of waste, but some brands are stepping up to create change.

Written by
Charlotte Brackett

Are you someone who enjoys their skincare routine? Someone who does their makeup before leaving the house? Do you have an assortment of products lining your bathroom sink just waiting to be used?

For most of us, the answer is yes. But with all these products comes lots of waste. Zero Waste Week estimates that more than 120 billion pieces of packaging are produced globally every year by the cosmetics industry, contributing to loss of 18 million acres of forests annually.

How L'Oreal Is Inspiring Brands to Come Together To Create Change In the Cosmetics Industry

In May of 2018, L’Oréal co-founded SPICE: the Sustainable Packaging Initiative for CosmEtics. SPICE is an initiative that now includes 25 global cosmetics brands and organizations. Together, the members co-create ways to drive the future of sustainable packaging for cosmetics. 

One way these large corporations can track the environmental footprint of their products is the SPICE Tool. It intends to unite leading global cosmetics stakeholders to work towards a common goal: collectively shaping the future of sustainable packaging.

An In-Depth Look at the SPICE Tool

But what does this tool actually do? The SPICE Tool measures and reduces the environmental footprint of any cosmetics packaging throughout its life cycle from production to end. The public tool gives packaging designers insights needed to help them develop more resilient packaging.

Furthermore, the platform provides a free demo version and a pro version. It aims to provide all beauty companies with an easy way to measure, improve, and communicate more credibly. All-in-all, SPICE is doing many good things in the world of cosmetics ranging from guiding sustainable packaging policy to providing transparency. 

Phillippe Bonninque (Group Global Director of Sustainable Packaging at L’Oréal): "As the co-founder of SPICE, L’Oréal is proud to see the initiative uniting the cosmetics industry around a shared vision of sustainable packaging. We are pleased to share this experience to help develop the SPICE Tool so that, together, we can drive the industry’s sustainable transformation.”

How Consumers Can Reduce Their Cosmetics Waste

With more people come more purchases and more waste (the average person creates about 4.5 pounds of trash daily). Cosmetics brands are stepping up to work towards a thriving future for both the beauty industry and the Earth. It's important to support brands who use recyclable packaging and to be mindful when making new clean beauty purchases.

But all cosmetics products besides makeup also need to be taken into environmental consideration. Items that fall into self-care like toothpaste, wet wipes, cotton rounds, cotton buds, perfumes, and nail polish are also worth mentioning. SPICE is committed to making the world of cosmetics more sustainable.

The average woman owns a whopping 40 makeup products, but she typically only uses five of those, meaning the rest will eventually get thrown away unused. Before you purchase a new item, consider if you'll actually use it!

Small Steps In the Right Direction, But There's Still a Long Way To Go

While it's encouraging to see beauty brands like L'Oreal, Clarins and Chanel making steps towards reducing cosmetics packaging waste on their end, there's still a long journey ahead towards true "clean beauty" – using eco-friendly ingredients, banning animal testing, and further reducing waste are a few areas that need major improvement.