Negative beauty in plastic may just be the answer to saving the planet

The list of ingredients – Breaking down the what, where and why of natural and ecological beauty.

the list of ingredients


It’s not new news that the beauty industry has a packaging problem. You’ve probably seen the statistic that 120 billion units of packaging are produced annually by the global cosmetic industry. Many of our favorite products are housed in plastic and much of this cannot or will not be recycled. In fact, only 50% of bathroom waste ends up being actually recycled.

Over the past five years, many brands have taken steps in the right direction when it comes to sustainability, whether it’s reducing waste, switching to more planet-friendly materials like aluminum, or investing in refillable solutions.

The next trend that is gaining momentum? Plastic negative beauty. It might seem like a contradiction in terms, but if done right it can make a difference for our planet. Also, with the introduction of the Plastic Tax taking place this month, it’s a win-win for everyone to lean on the negative plastic movement soon.

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What is neutral plastic beauty or negative plastic?

Neutral plastic beauty or negative plastic beauty goes a step further than being zero waste. Zero-waste beauty products tend to avoid using any plastics in their manufacture, but these brands may still use plastic at some point in their manufacture or production (more on that later). To claim plastic neutrality or negativity, they have to do more.

London-based skin and body brand UpCircle is one of the first beauty companies to do so. “For every product we sell, we are contributing a percentage to controlled impact programs that will remove more plastic waste from the environment than we create in our packaging and operations,” explained co-founder Anna Brightman. “Neutral plastic would be the removal of all the plastic your brand uses, negative plastic means we remove twice as much as we use,” she clarified.

Of course, there is no way to magically unravel the plastic that has been created, but by working in this way brands can invest in schemes that help better manage the plastic already in our environment.

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How can a brand be plastic neutral or plastic negative?

To begin with, a brand needs to calculate how much plastic it uses. It might sound simple, but it’s not just about the products that end up in your bathroom, but the entire supply chain. Brightman points out that they must include both direct and indirect plastics. Direct is something they have control over like packaging, and indirect is something they have less say in, like how it is shipped to stores or distributors.

Once calculated, brands tend to partner with an organization that is concerned with removing plastic from the environment. Take Evolve Beauty, the organic skin, body and hair brand that recently partnered with rePurpose Global, a leading plastic neutrality organization.

Through rePurpose Global, Evolve has invested in a social enterprise in India that focuses on the ethical collection and disposal of MLP (multilaminated plastics) hazardous waste. “This type of plastic is virtually indestructible and, if not collected, it will remain in oversaturated landfills for hundreds of years, or eventually leak into the oceans where it will decompose into microplastic and be ingested by marine life,” Laura Rudoe, founder and CEO of Evolve Beauty explained.

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The project not only prevents plastic from ending up in the seas, but also helps local communities. “This partnership allows us not only to finance cutting-edge and sustainable waste management, but also allows us to support ethical wages for marginalized waste workers,” confirmed Rudoe.

And greenwashing?

With terms like negative or neutral plastic, it’s only natural to assume that a hint of greenwashing may be underway. The terms themselves are a bit misleading. At the crux, the more sustainable, plastic-free option is always buying nothing versus buying something. However, buying from brands that are investing in positive waste schemes offered by organizations like rePurpose Global can be a good thing.

But it’s worth checking whether the brand is also doing everything it can to reduce its plastic footprint and not just using these partnerships to solve the problem.

“I think the current projects that try to bring brands to Plastic Neutral and Negative are positive and push brands in the right direction, but there are always two aspects to that. We need to increase the rate of recycled plastic and eventually abandon use. complete with plastic, “commented Yolanda Cooper, founder of Plastic Free Beauty Day.

Furthermore, plastic is just one piece of the complex sustainability puzzle and therefore the brands that are making positive changes across the board for our planet that are worth investing in.

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