With Earth Day 2021 just around the corner, it felt like the perfect time to have a little chat about plastic.
Plastic has a pretty bad reputation, and understandably so. When you see the devastation that plastic is wreaking on our waterways (and the curious creatures that live in them), it’s hard not to be anti-plastic.
But today we wanted to tell you all about why we’re pro-plastic. Yep, we did actually say that! We’re a loud and proud eco-friendly company, and we actually LIKE plastic :)
We’re ALWAYS looking for ways to reduce our eco-footprint and for a brand like us, packaging is numero uno. While we do use a few different types of packaging here at Happy Skincare (we use a mix of plastic, glass, tin and cardboard), it seems like everyone is on a mission to reduce their plastic usage, so we’ve spent a ridiculous amount of time exploring every alternative available to us, and the truth is that we keep coming back to plastic.
Plastic is a magical material with an impressively low environmental footprint.The problem with plastics doesn’t lie in the material itself, but in the way we as a society manage it.
When disposed of, recycled, or offset responsibly, plastic is actually much lighter on the environment than any other mainstream packaging options (most of which are usually considered more eco-friendly than plastic).
And that’s virgin plastic we’re talking about. If you then consider post-consumer-recycled plastic like we use in our bottles and tubes, the footprint of the plastic becomes even smaller. Another bonus is that we make our bottles locally here in NSW in a carbon-neutral facility - that’s 2 more boxes ticked - less transport and less emissions. 👍
Looking at the true cost of plastic alternatives
The environmental risk assessment groupTrucost has estimated that swapping plastic for alternatives such as glass, tin, or aluminum would increase environmental costs globally from $139 billion USD to $533 billion USD. These costs take a wide variety of things into account, like ocean damage, end-of-life management (e.g. recycling or landfill), transportation, production, and material & energy recovery.
That’s nearly 4 times the environmental cost (i.e. more damage to our environment) when you switch to resources other than plastic. Mind blown???
Interestingly much of the environmental costs of alternative materials (especially glass) can be attributed to their higher weight when compared to plastic, which increases its production and transportation emissions, particularly considering that most glass is made in China.
While on the other hand materials like tin and aluminium are super lightweight, but they have the additional environmental cost of mining.
So we have been asking ourselves: How can we do plastic better?
After a long time on the roundabout, we’ve landed on the fact that plastic has the lowest environmental impact when compared to our other packaging options, but it’s still far from perfect. After all, it’s plastic that’s clogging up our waterways, not glass or tin.
How can we lessen the strain that plastic is placing on the earth? How can we make sure it's being disposed of properly and recycled to give it another life?
Becoming “Plastic Neutral”
It’s exciting to embark on new environmental initiatives and this one could just be our most exciting yet. This year we’re partnering withrePurpose Global Impact Foundation to become certified plastic neutral. And we’re aiming to become not just plastic neutral, but plastic POSITIVE.
We do this by supporting rePurpose and their global plastic recycling projects to remove more plastic from the planet than we send out there, with the goal of creating a cleaner, healthier, happier planet.
The very clever and passionate folk at rePurpose have built up a global community of Plastic Neutral brands and companies across 6 countries across the food, beverage, health, beauty, and professional services industries. Impressively, so far they’ve enabled the removal of over 150 tons of ocean-bound plastic waste across their vetted recycling projects in 3 continents and 6 countries (India, Sri Lanka, Indonesia, Kenya, Colombia, Haiti, Honduras), with a lot more to come!
For every 50 cents contributed to rePurpose, a hefty 1kg of plastic waste otherwise destined for landfills, oceans, or incineration will be eliminated. And we’re thrilled to be a part of this initiative.
The Happy Earth Recycling Program
Some of the types of plastic we use in the cosmetics industry are not ideal because they can be hard to recycle. That’s because they are made from a few different types of plastic (or plastic + glass, or plastic + aluminium), and our local recycling facilities don’t have the capabilities to separate them, meaning they usually end up in landfill.
We’re working around this by partnering withTerracycle to collect these hard-to-recycle items and send them to a specialised facility where waste management experts can make sure they get recycled and don’t become a burden on the environment.
Plus there’s a little sweetener in there for you too! If you save up your hard-to-recycle packaging from any of our 4 brands and send it back to us, we’ll reward you with Happy Points that you can trade in for free products.
Our Recycling Program has been around for a few years now, but just in case you haven’t discovered it yet,you can read all about it here.
There’s no perfect solution
As much as we’ve put plastic up on a pedestal today, we’ll be the first to admit that it’s not perfect. But right now there is no perfect solution for cosmetics packaging, so we just have to do the best we can.
After all, we’re a really small company in the scheme of things, and even the big multinational companies are still struggling with this!
You can be confident that our impact on the earth is something that is incredibly important to us, and that we won’t ever stop trying to improve. The best we can do right now is to strive for progress, not perfection, and keep making decisions with our hearts and not our wallets.