The Beauty Industry’s Plastic Problem

The Beauty Industry’s Plastic Problem

Posted by Izzy Zero Waste Beauty on

Think about your makeup bag for a minute. What do you see? Most likely plastic products. From mascaras to foundations and eyeshadow palettes, plastic has been the go-to packaging solution for the beauty industry. But the industry has a plastic problem that may have no solution if we don’t act quickly. 

Yes, we’re doing better in terms of recycling and using post-consumer materials to produce packaging. But only about 9% of plastic gets recycled! If plastic can’t break down, where is all our beauty packaging ending up?


Of course, we consumers are to blame for not following the recycling process. But isn’t the beauty industry partially responsible for providing more sustainable and recyclable options? Let’s zoom in and try to unwind the industry’s plastic problem – and see how we can steer this ship in a different direction. 


How Bad Is It?

Let’s go back to your makeup bag for a second. Think about how much plastic is in there. Now look around your home, and try to count all the plastic items (both reusable and single-use) you have lying around. Plastic has become such an intrinsic part of our lives that we’ve become desensitized to it – and its impact on the environment. 


National Geographic estimates that over five trillion pieces of plastic call the ocean their home. Of course, the beauty industry isn’t the only one to blame for this. But it definitely plays a significant role. In fact, estimates say the beauty industry generates 120 billion units of packaging every year. 


In the United States, the average person generates almost 231 pounds of plastic waste per year. The United Kingdom isn’t much better, with the average Brit generating 218 pounds annually. 


Is Beauty Killing the Environment?

It’s definitely affecting it. According to UNESCO, plastic debris is responsible for the death of over 100,000 marine mammals and over a million seabirds every year. But the beauty industry isn’t just killing the environment. In the long run, it’s going to kill us.


Consider the circle of life. As we’re sending microplastics and plastic waste to the oceans, these particles are being ingested by fish. Eventually, these microplastics travel through the food chain back to us. 


But plastics in the ocean don’t only affect fish and marine mammals. About 90% of corals are getting tangled in plastic, which is causing them to become diseased and die. 


How Are We Changing This? 

All is not lost, though. Change is in the air. With public awareness growing around the plastic problem, the beauty industry is looking for ways to cut down on plastic pollution. 


In the United Kingdom, new regulations are putting a stop to plastic microbeads and looking into complete bans of single-use plastic items such as wet wipes. This is certainly a step in the right direction. 


Thankfully, a growing number of beauty brands are making strides on their own. Many have introduced recycling programs to help with your empties. Others are focusing on using more post-consumer recycled plastics in their packaging. And some are even looking for – and implementing – reusable packaging options.


How Izzy Is Part of the Future 

The beauty industry has always been synonymous with innovation when it comes to formulas and breakthrough ingredients. But it’s time to look beyond that and focus on packaging innovation – which is precisely what we’ve been doing here at Izzy Zero Waste Beauty.


Well aware of the beauty industry’s plastic problem, Izzy wanted to be a part of the solution – which is why the first product we developed was a 100% refillable, recyclable and reusable mascara that’s certified CarbonNeutral® and completely zero waste. By rethinking how most people purchase and use beauty products (and taking into consideration the challenges of recycling in certain regions), Izzy reinvented the consumer-purchase cycle with a fully reusable offering.


Our formulas are vegan, gluten-free and 100% clean, and our components use 94% less plastic than traditional mascaras. And thanks to the circular nature of our direct-to-consumer business model, our Zero Waste Mascara can be refilled and reused more than 10,000 times – giving each mascara a more than 2,500-year lifespan.


Whereas plastic packaging is the norm for most beauty products, Izzy comes with no outer packaging and is shipped directly to the consumer in reusable mailers made from upcycled materials. The mascara tubes contain zero plastic and are made with medical-grade stainless steel. Even the water from our antibacterial triple-cleansing process is reused rather than dumped into oceans, lakes or rivers.


While breaking the beauty industry’s plastic habit will take time, there’s a very real consumer demand for cleaner, more recyclable options like Izzy Zero Waste Mascara. By setting a precedent and leading by example, we are showing the world that it is indeed possible to produce high-performance, prestige beauty products that don’t contribute to the plastic problem. If we can make someone feel beautiful while preventing mascara tubes from being dumped in a landfill or the ocean, then we’re doing our job.