Sustainability is Not Just About Packaging

Sustainability is Not Just About Packaging

I spend a lot of time with Gen Z in my role as a teaching fellow of Chemical Formulation Design at Canterbury University. As I myself am from Gen X, it’s always interesting seeing the world through their eyes.

Though there’s been a general increase in the awareness of sustainability practices in the world of health and beauty, for my generation it’s been something of a learned perspective. The cool thing about Gen Z is that this perspective is their own.

What has really stood out to me with these young and enthusiastic future movers and shakers of our planet, is not the urge to find recyclable, reusable packaging but how to minimize consumption of products and other material things in their lives.

And that led me to thinking about the products we are designing and formulating for the future. Sustainability is not necessarily about packaging of well-known formulations. What about the ingredients themselves?

Recently our 2nd-year students were issued an assignment to create a household or agricultural product. Most of the class created a waterless condensed prototype cleaning product which could be activated by adding water and would do the job of five products. An inspired idea!

We have so many products to choose from when we go to the shops and new variations of existing things launching every other day. Overwhelming is the word that comes to mind. I think efficiency is something that everyone can be excited about.

Is it the beginning of the end of the 12-step beauty regime? Or the introduction of a cleaning product to replace the 10 in our cupboards?

Enter multifunctional formulations, reconstituted beauty, waterless beauty, dry powder skincare, water-activated beauty, and household concentrates.

There are obvious benefits with these solutions: they’re lighter to ship, there’s less packaging, they use low-energy manufacturing, they’re preservative-free, it’s a DIY product, and – as one of my students pointed out – “why pay for water when it’s free?!”

But of course, there are some implications to the overall viability of the production of products in this way which may not suit the smaller production houses.

The products are likely to be more expensive to manufacture as larger volumes of raw ingredients will be required. And there’s the risk of inhalation with dry products too. It’s possible that we will be limited to what products we can manufacture in this form, depending on raw ingredients and the viability of the finished goods. As always we await to see the consumer demand, and the feedback as we enter this new category.

Below is a list of the latest commercial products available, and also some of our ingredient supplier prototypes getting ahead of the curve.

A leader in this category is OWA HAIRCARE

Formulating with: sodium cocoyl isethionate, xanthan gum, cellulose gum, guar hydroxypropyltrimonium chloride, cocamidopropyl betaine, triethyl citrate*, hydrolyzed rice protein, maltodextrin, aloe barbadensis leaf juice, ribes nigrum bud extract*, pelargonium graveolens flower oil*, eugenia caryophyllus (clove) leaf oil*, cananga odorata flower oil*, sodium phytate, sodium dehydroacetate


Ingredients (for Uplifiting Lemongrass Shower Powder): Solanum Tuberosum (Potato) Starch, Sodium Cocoyl Isethionate, Kaolin, Prunus Armeniaca (Apricot) Kernel Oil, Coco Glucoside, Avena sativa Kernel (Oatmeal) Flour, Cymbopogon Flexuosus Herb (Lemongrass) Oil, Glycerin, Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Juice.


Citric Acid, Sodium Coco-Sulfate, Sodium Carbonate, Sodium Benzoate, Algin, Polyethylene Glycol, Sorbitol, Potassium Sorbate, Fragrance, Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride

an-hydra MICROBIOME CLEANSER – Sustainable Skincare simplified

Sodium Lauroyl Glutamate*, Sodium Myristoyl Glutamate*, L-Ascorbic Acid, Sea Silt*, Maltodextrin*, Lactobacillus Ferment*, Oryza Sativia (Rice) Starch*, Mannitol, Microcrystaline Cellulose, Xanthan Gum, Collodial Oatmeal*, Bentonite Clay*, Magnesium Aluminum Silicate*, Lavandula Angustifolia (Lavender) Oil*, Sodium Hyaluronate*, Aloe Barbadensis, Salix Alba (Willow) Bark Extract, Lactobacillus/Punica Granatum Fruit Ferment Extract *Ecocert.

Azelis Eco Balance Cleansing Tablet/Powder using Corn PO4 PHB and Maisita 9040

Wash time for hair and skin will never be the same. A unique formulation utilising green powdered mild surfactants, combined with Corn PO4 PHB and Maisita 9040 allowing tablet formation or free-flowing powder without inhalation issues. The water-free formulation removes the unnecessary transportation of water and equally minimises packaging, significantly reducing the carbon footprint. The consumer then has the flexibility to use the product on the go, or at home with ease.

BASF Exfoliating Powder to Foam using Plantapon SUS and Jordapon SCI Powder 

Formulation can be found by following the title link above.

CRODA Powder Serum

A powder serum that easily melts on skin when applied with a facial toner. Apply on wet fingers or directly onto the face and gently massage in. This one-of-a-kind formulation contains HydrolactinTM 2500, a hydrolysed milk protein that nourishes the skin. SolaveilTM CTP-1 is an inorganic UVB filter that provides true transparency on skin and also acts as a sensory modifier.

Ingredients that will be in demand for this new category will be starches, clay, milk powders, dry actives and freeze-dried botanicals.

That shortlist itself is testament to the innovation in this area. Efficiency and travel-friendliness are things that come to mind. (Perhaps in time for when we’re freely able to travel again!) There’s also the attraction of being able to mix your own products (i.e. add water and off you go) at home at your own leisure.

But, coming back to my original thought: it’s our planet that we need to keep in mind with the creation of more and more products. Saving water in the formulation and production of products across this category is an exciting prospect. Along with the well-known and accepted changes to packaging efficiencies in the market, this is the kind of innovation that reminds me why I love this industry!

Enjoy this article? We think you might enjoy ‘The drive for innovative self-care with naturally-sourced ingredients from New Zealand’

Tagged , , , , , , , .

Connecting innovation, creativity and curiosity for formulations, products and brands that stand out from the crowd. With many years experience in the beauty and cosmetics industry, Stacey Fraser knows what it takes to take the ordinary and turn it into the extraordinary. Armed with innovative ideas and using expressive and creative processes, her ambition is driven by others’ successes. Having developed knowledge and expertise in all facets of the supply chain, Stacey understands the importance of supporting the formulation and launch of the next iconic product with a water-tight supply chain process and an impactful communications strategy.  She is an industry all-rounder. Career highlights include designing products for one of New Zealand’s leading skincare brands, Trilogy, starting her own business to help other brands bring their own forward-thinking ideas to life and sharing her knowledge and support of the Degree in Chemical Formulation at Canterbury University. Stacey is passionate about following curiosity, anticipating trends, acknowledging sustainability, having a social conscience and - above all - being authentic. “I have spent my life pursuing things that feed my curiosity for the world and what it has to offer, and I am always on the lookout for my next interesting project.”

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *