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Estée Lauder shares promising update about its efforts in developing sustainable beauty product packaging: 'This work is more important than ever'

"We have an opportunity to take our packaging innovation to an even greater level."

"We have an opportunity to take our packaging innovation to an even greater level."

Photo Credit: iStock

The beauty industry is getting a much-needed makeover as Estée Lauder becomes the next major beauty retailer to commit to going green. Recently, in celebration of Earth Day, the company shared an update on its latest efforts to shift toward sustainable product packaging.

As Beauty Packaging reported, The Estée Lauder Companies (ELC) — which owns many beauty brands, including Estée Lauder — announced that "71% of all ELC's packaging is now recyclable, refillable, reusable, recycled, or recoverable" as of 2023. 

This number is up from 59% in 2021 and 63% in 2022, and it is a noticeable step toward the company's goal of at least 75% of its packaging incorporating one of the five R's. 

In a company news release, Nancy Mahon, the chief sustainability officer of ELC, said, "We have an opportunity to take our packaging innovation to an even greater level by continuing to implement sustainability principles that allow us to create elegant solutions for our consumers while keeping the environment in mind."

In 2020, ELC launched its Packaging Sustainability Guidelines to "provide a clear roadmap" for creating more environmentally friendly packaging. The company listed five objectives in its guidelines: reducing packaging materials, designing reusable packaging, increasing recycled content, creating recyclable products, and using recyclable bioplastics instead of petroleum-based plastics.

That said, the makeup industry, including Estée Lauder, still creates a ton of waste. The cosmetics industry generates over 120 billion packaging units annually, per the Guardian. Since most plastic isn't recyclable, it inevitably ends up in landfills or the environment. 

Though moving toward recyclable packaging is always an improvement for the planet, it's worth noting that just because something can be recycled doesn't mean it will be at the end of its life.

Terms like "recyclable," "refillable," "reusable," "recycled," and "recoverable" are not regulated and, thus, can mean many different things. Some brands have been known to leverage vague terminology as a form of greenwashing — a misleading marketing tactic that can be hard to spot. 

However, ELC does seem to be making positive changes. 

🗣️ Which eco-friendly initiative would make you most likely to buy products from a clean beauty brand?

🔘 Using less plastic packaging 🗑️

🔘 Using more organic ingredients 🌿

🔘 Recycling empty containers 🫙

🔘 I don't buy clean beauty products 🚫

🗳️ Click your choice to see results and speak your mind

The company has already made several innovations in the sustainable packaging space, including what it claims is the first-ever paper-based recyclable beauty sample sachet by Aveda. In addition to cutting down on waste, the sachet reduces water consumption by at least 36% and produces 37% fewer heat-trapping gases than plastic sachets. 

It's also switched to glass packaging instead of plastic for the Revitalizing Supreme+ Moisturizer Youth Power Creme by Estée Lauder, which ELC says includes a refillable pod to reduce packaging weight by 90%.

The planet-friendly move by ELC will benefit human health in addition to the planet, since plastics have been attributed to all sorts of health issues, such as cancers, obesity, and reproductive harm. 

Holding polluting industries accountable and supporting eco-friendly initiatives will hopefully encourage companies to take even bigger steps in reducing their impact on our planet's overheating. 

"Sustainability has long been central to how The Estée Lauder Companies and its brands have operated and is a key part of our corporate strategy for the future. We know this work is more important than ever, and we are committed to accelerating our efforts to contribute to the health and well-being of people and the planet," Mahon said

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