Don’t call refillable beauty products “sustainable” | report

It’s 2097 and your great-great-grandson went to his local Sephora for a new lipstick, having just run out of Charlotte Tilbury’s Pillow Talk (hey, we told you the rosy-beige hue was timeless).

Summer has arrived and today your descendant is looking for something brighter and bolder – they choose Dior Blush 999, a fire engine red. After the purchase, they recycle the empty cartridge from Charlotte Tilbury and put in the new one from Dior – because your great-great-grandson has a universal lipstick tube in which you can easily switch shades any Brand.

In 2022, we are a long way from a world where beauty product packaging has been standardized across the board to eliminate unnecessary waste – and the use of refill packs is not the exception, but the norm.

About two years ago, there was a sudden surge in beauty brands launching refillable products. (This new wave of pre-existing brands is not to be confused with brands — like Kjaer Weis and Surratt — built that refillability into their lines from the start.) In the time since, it feels like hardly a day has gone by without another beauty company — be it a drugstore giant like Dove or a large luxury supplier like chanels – Announcing that something in their lineup is “now refillable”!

The idea was and is that after purchasing the first container and completing the formula within, one could simply buy a refill for a product – often in the form of a less packaging-intensive capsule, sachet or cartridge – instead of another jar, bottle or full size tube.

When marketing these refills, some brands tout cost savings (refills tend to cost less than the original products), others convenience – but pretty much all point out that using refills creates less waste than buying the primary packaging over and over again.

And here’s the good news: That’s true. The bad news? It’s not nearly as easy.

Like recyclability, refillability is great in theory – but not always in practice. Just like certain materials able to certain packaging designs are recyclable able to be refilled. However, the question on both points is: will They are? (Here’s your daily reminder that only 9 percent of all plastic waste ever produced was actually turned into something we could then use again — as in, recycled.)

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