The predominant economic model across the globe moves around the linear economy, which is based on the take-make-use-dispose pattern (1); however, this model is continuously carrying the planet to the limit of its resources. Unlike the linear economy, the circular economy is a model of production and consumption created to be restorative and regenerative by design (2).
The principles of the updated model consist in creating sustainable products that last longer, and extending the life cycle of the products by taking them back to the chain value through reusing, recycling, repairing, refurbishing, and so on. Also, the participation of the consumers by changing the habit of throwing away and replacing to repairing (3) takes part in the new circulatory change.
Since the global consumption of raw materials, as well as the greenhouse gas emissions derived from their extraction, are rapidly increasing, the industry is being urgently called to develop greener products through more sustainable processes. All the negative impact that some products are causing to the environment needs to be diminished as soon as possible. In particular, the cosmetic industry is leaving its mark on the world with tons of plastic used for containers and materials utilized during product elaboration. Based on the above mentioned, not only cosmetic industry is providing sustainable choices in the market but also regulatory agencies are responding to it.
In response to the environmental problem, in March 2020, the European Commission released the circular economy action plan in order to establish a greener economy and protect the environment. Among other initiatives, the Commission is compromised to review the essential mandatory requirements for packaging, plastic and water, to encourage cosmetic companies to rethink their processes through the implementation of reusable or recyclable packaging, reducing waste and diminishing the negative impact of resource extraction (4). As a consequence, at the end of October 2021, the Commission enacted the EU Ecolabel (see figure 2) criteria for cosmetic products, which will be assigned to firms which have a reduced environmental impact during their entire life cycle (5).
On the other side, the cosmetic industry is slowly turning into the manufacture of eco-friendly cosmetic products. The circular economy represents a huge challenge to the industry, especially for bigger companies, but great efforts are being made in pro of saving the planet. A number of beauty brands have summed to the initiative not only by eco-designing formulas, products, and packaging but also by rethinking their industrial processes while limiting the use of resources, that impact considerably the environment. In this framework, some brands are focused on making their packaging with recyclable materials, while others are emerging with containers redesigned to be refillable, reusable and recyclable (6).
Nevertheless, this is not only a matter of governments and industry but also the consumers play a crucial role in the process of change. The continuance and success of all these sustainable practices depend to a large extent on the positive response and feedback of the consumers, in order to extend these actions to other companies and go across the world.
In short, the ultimate goal of the circular economy is waste prevention (zero waste) and the reduction of pollution by implementing eco-friendly practices in favour of the environment. Furthermore, being aware of the role that consumers have, some recommendations and initiatives should be applied next time a cosmetic product is purchased:
Attention should be paid to the label of the product and preferentially eco-friendly should be bought.
Brands actively contributing to the development of more sustainable products need to be supported.
Single-use plastic containers should be avoided (see figure 3).
Products packaged in glass or recyclable materials should be acquired more frequently.
Products that can be refilled should be bought.
All these initiatives should be promoted to a large extent.
New cosmetic brands emerging in the market should start developing eco-designing products
Take care of the planet while you take care of your skin! It's easy and matters!
RTS. Circular Economy: What is it + how does it work? Retrieved 13 May 2022, from What is Circular Economy & How Does It Work? : Complete Guide - RTS - Recycle Track Systems
European Parliament. Circular economy: definition, importance and benefits. Retrieved 13 May 2022, from Circular economy: definition, importance and benefits | News | European Parliament (europa.eu)
Towards zero waste. What is Circular Economy? Retrieved 13 May 2022, from What is Circular Economy? (towardszerowaste.gov.sg)
European Commission. Circular Economy Action Plan, For a cleaner and more competitive world. Retrieved 13 May 2022, from https://ec.europa.eu/environment/pdf/circular-economy/new_circular_economy_action_plan.pdf
Ecolabel. The environmental label. Retrieved 13 May 2022, from The environmental label you can trust: EU-Ecolabel
National Geographic. La industria de la belleza genera muchos residuos plásticos. ¿Puede cambiar? Retrieved 13 May 2022, from La industria de la belleza genera muchos residuos plásticos. ¿Puede cambiar? | National Geographic
Are you interested in knowing more about the circular economy?, then click on the links below and enjoy 😊