How sustainable is the packaging of Santaverde?

Why what seems sustainable at first glance is not truly sustainable from our point of view and how we try to avoid greenwashing.

Packaging and Greenwashing

Why is product packaging necessary at all?

Food as well as cosmetics come into direct contact with our inner and outer organism. 100% product safety in terms of hygiene, quality and purity must therefore be our overriding goal for us as a responsible manufacturer. This is the only way to protect the effectiveness and durability of our valuable cosmetics. Combining of product safety and sustainability is an everlasting task for us.

While doing so, we want to produce as little waste as possible and, above all, we want to avoid greenwashing. We want to use sensible packaging materials for Santaverde in the long term, which take all advantages and disadvantages into account and not only aim at the "green" marketing effect of the apparent, but not really sustainable solution. Download the article as PDF.

Why do we use polyethylene tubes for our cream packaging and not compostable plastics?

There is currently no sensible compostable packaging that can be classified as product-safe and sustainable when all aspects are taken into account. The packaging industry is working on the development, but it is crucial to look at behind the scenes here:

If the original raw material is also a foodstuff, such as corn or sugar cane, cultivation for packaging purposes as well as for animal feed increases the pressure on global food prices, especially in the poorer countries of the world. The result: more poverty and hunger.

Rainforests are already being cleared in Brazil today for the increased cultivation of sugar cane or corn for animal feed and as packaging raw material. On the new clear-cut fields, genetically modified corn and sugar cane will then be cultivated in huge monocultures, with massive use of herbicides, pesticides and synthetic fertilizers. Brazil, for example, is currently the world's largest user of crop protection products. The result: more poisoned soil and monocultures, less rainforest for biodiversity and climate protection.

For us, this would have to guarantee 100% that the packaging raw material consists of real waste from food production, which has been cultivated sustainably. Such a thing does not (yet) exist at present.

Until the packaging industry comes onto the market with an acceptable alternative for us, we have decided, after weighing up all the advantages and disadvantages, to use polyethylene as the packaging material for most of our cosmetic products. 

Advantages of Polyethylene:

  • Consists of pure ethylene (obtained from naphtha oil or gas oil) that is polymerized. It does not contain any other substances such as the toxic phtylates or bisphenol A.
  • Like glass and aluminum, it is suitable for foodstuffs and is used for milk bottles, for instance.
  • Is produced with extremely low energy consumption at + 20ºC to + 150ºC (in comparison: glass at + 1,700ºC, aluminum at + 650ºC).
  • Can be reused many times by recycling and melting at + 20ºC to + 150ºC (in comparison: glass at + 1,700ºC, aluminum at + 650ºC).
  • Burns residue-free by decomposing into CO2 (carbon dioxide) and H2O (water).
  • Avoids the use of foods that can serve other people as staple foods and that impel food speculation and GMO cultivation.


Disadvantage of Polyethylene:

  • Does not decompose naturally, instead it must be sent for recycling or incineration.


Disadvantage of Tubes:

  • Are difficult to empty 100%.


Why do we use airless dispensers for some products?

The airless dispensers are a very high quality packaging type, which protects our products optimally and offers the customer an excellent handling. The output efficiency is exceptionally high here (at least 97%). Especially sensitive active ingredients, such as antioxidants, are optimally protected in an airless dispenser.

Why do we use glass packaging for some of our products?

We use glass for our toners and oils because we believe that this is currently the best solution for the ease of use of this product category and product consistency. We are often asked why we do not also fill the cleansers, creams, serums etc. in glass, as this seems more sustainable at first sight.

For this, one must know the following:

For gel-like or creamy textures, the output from a glass packaging must be carried out by a special pump and this leaves a lot of valuable residual product in the glass dispenser (so-called "ketchup" effect).

Moreover, glass is not necessarily more sustainable. A lot of energy in the form of very high temperatures is required to manufacture glass. This enormous consumption only makes sense if the glass is used as long as possible, i.e. reused many times. This usually works via a returnable deposit system, for instance. In order to introduce a returnable deposit system, however, one would have to take into account a very high cleaning effort for the individual glasses. This also consumes a lot of energy and requires strong, fat-dissolving cleaning agents - and above all: a lot of water. If it is disposable glass, it must be melted down again after use - and this is done at temperatures around +1,700ºC, which also consumes an enormous amount of energy and causes a correspondingly large amount of CO2. The CO2 footprint of glass per gram is lower than that of plastics, but since glass is much heavier than plastic, the saved CO2 is recreated during subsequent transport.

Advantages of Glass Packaging:

  • If the glass is reusable or a returnable glass: lower CO2 emissions.
  • Glass can be recycled several times if it is well separated.
  • If it is recycled glass: secondary use of existing packaging materials.


Disadvantages of Glass Packaging:

  • High weight, resulting in higher transport costs and energy.
  • High CO2 emissions due to production and melting energy (+ 1,700ºC).
  • Fragility proves that a folding box is indispensable for protection.


Why are our products also packed in cardboard boxes?

With glass packaging, such as our toners, outer packaging is necessary to protect the product during transport. In addition, the necessary mandatory information on the outer packaging in text form is too extensive to fit directly onto our tubes and dispensers. However, in the case of larger products, such as personal care products, we are examining whether we can do without the outer packaging in the medium to long term.


Which packaging types are currently out of question for us

Why do we not use recycled plastic material?

100% recycled material is not possible for our products. The Cosmetics Ordinance stipulates that in the case of cosmetic packaging, no substances may migrate from the product packaging into the product. With 100% recycled material, there is no supplier up to now who can guarantee that the sensitive formulations are safely protected, no migration takes place and we get a permanently identical, guaranteed material composition. However, if this cannot be ensured, the material that comes into direct contact with the cosmetics must be a so-called "virgin" material, i.e. a material that has not previously been used for other products, i.e. recycled. Although it is possible to add a maximum of 50% recycled material to the product packaging, this is only possible for the outer coating.
Tests are currently in progress to determine whether the use of 50% PCR (post consumer recycling) or a 20% reduction in wall thickness is the more climate-friendly solution. At present, PCR material is also very scarce and bottlenecks occur - here, availability must be ensured through effective disposal and recycling, which is currently not the case.

Why do we not use refill packaging?

Refill options usually lead to more rather than less packaging material is used, because the refillable outer packaging must in turn contain packaging that sufficiently protects the cosmetic product in direct contact. A secondary packaging into which this protective packaging is placed must therefore be correspondingly larger. In addition, the refill system only works if you keep buying new products from the same brand and product category. This is not so often the case with products that last a long time. This ultimately results in more packaging waste and a higher material mix than would be the case with single-use packaging. From our point of view, this is greenwashing.

Why do we not use jars for our creamy/gel textures?

Crucibles are out of the question for us, as you often put your finger directly into the crucible and not with a 100% clean spatula, so the product comes into contact with bacteria and can quickly become germinated. In conventional cosmetics, synthetic preservatives curb the multiplication of microorganisms so that the product does not spoil. We do not want these skin-polluting substances in real natural cosmetics. With pure, undenatured bio-alcohol and a combination of plant extracts, which is individually developed for each recipe, we achieve the legally required shelf life (uninterrupted for at least 2 years, opened for at least 1/2 year). This is a great challenge for us and the packaging plays an important role in this context: the fewer microorganisms get into the product during use, the gentler the preservation can be. Tubes or airless dispensers allow a much more hygienic extraction of the product than a crucible.


Sustainable use and disposal of our product packaging

What can you do as a consumer?

  • Always empty products in use completely and fully. Tip: Tubes can be cut open and thus completely emptied.
  • Disassemble the packaging into its components for recycling: Place the lid separately from the tube or dispenser in the appropriate recycling or residual waste.


Please note the following disposal instructions

Glass Packaging (oils and toners):

  • Bottle with label: Waste Glass (white glass)
  • Pump: Household Waste
  • Cap: Yellow Bag


Glass bottle of aloepur:

  • Bottle with Label: Waste Glass (brown glass)
  • Closure: Yellow Bag


Airless-Dispenser:

  • Dispenser and pump (crimped for product safety reasons): household waste
  • Cap: Yellow Bag


Plastic Tubes:

  • Place the tube and cap separately in the yellow bag


Folding Boxes:

  • Recycled Paper


Shipping cartons:

  • With adhesive tape and stickers into the recycled paper (everything is made of paper, the stickers are environmentally friendly)

 

Download the article as PDF.

We remain true to our convictions: read more about how Santaverde implements ecological, social and fair trade.

Contact

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Lena Birschkus
+49 40 460 99 110 write us
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