Is Circular Economy the latest buzzword in the industry or a meaningful practice that can revolutionise how we do business? Unlike a lot of trending buzzwords Circular Economy has a defined meaning and set of guiding principles.

We currently operate in a linear economy with a take-make-dispose approach. But we know that we can’t continue like this as the earth can no longer sustain this approach to business. In the Circular Economy materials never become waste and instead are circulated through processes like repairing, reusing and recycling. Our resources are not finite and instead of dumping them we need to continue reusing them at their highest value for as long as possible.

Circular Economy In The Beauty Industry

So in the beauty industry we would take responsibility for the end of life stage of our containers and encourage consumers not to dump them but also instead of recycling them, facilitate these containers being used again for the very same purpose. Think about how much less energy it would take if these containers were reused again to house cosmetics.

What if instead of using virgin raw materials that are grown, harvested and processed just for cosmetics, we realised that these resources would be best used to feed people. Instead we could use byproduct or waste materials from the food and drinks industry as our starting materials. It’s a growing area in cosmetics ingredients and one supplier has said it is the most searched term on their website.

What Else Can We Do

Can our paper and card packaging be made from recycled paper and can it be reused or composted at the end of its life? Absolutely! There has been fantastic advances made in the paper and card available and fully compostable packaging is much easier to source now.

The Circular Economy is about closing loops and have materials cycle for longer at their highest value. Yes recycling is good but it’s actually at the end of the 9Rs hierarchy;  Refuse, Rethink, Reduce, Reuse, Repair, Refurbish, Remanufacture, Repurpose, Recycle.

It is also about eliminating waste. There is a huge opportunity here for the beauty industry to leave behind some really wasteful practices, single use products, sachet samples, excess packaging, leaflets and all the traditional practices like thank you slips and freebies with online orders, business cards, printing of things that just don’t need to be printed! As consumers become more aware of their own carbon footprint they will begin to look at all the waste they are sent from businesses. We know that Gen Z are emerging as the sustainability generation, if you want to appeal to them your sustainability efforts need to be genuine and consistent.

Biotech Ingredients

The Circular Economy is also about regenerating nature. We have fallen in love with plant based ingredients but we need to look at where these are sourced from. Some plant ingredients have been harvested into extinction by the industry and the mass production of others harms biodiversity. A solution is biotech ingredients – nature identical ingredients created in labs – just like lab-grown diamonds. We get all the benefits of plant based without draining resources and threatening biodiversity.

Benefits Of Circular Economy

The benefits of bringing the Circular Economy into your beauty brand are strong

  • Improved efficiencies & money saving
  • Getting your business ready for compulsory sustainability reporting
  • Reducing reliance on materials and practices that will eventually become redundant
  • Appealing to consumers who are growing more aware of sustainability

Collaboration is key in this process. There has always been a spirit of helpfulness and camaraderie within the industry here in Ireland and as we all try to find our way through the challenges and opportunities that climate change will bring I think its key that we share our learnings and support each other through the process.

The Author

Tracey is not only a cosmetic chemist and co-founder of Doctrine but also has a HDip in Sustainability & Climate Change for Enterprise and is a passionate advocate for sustainability

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