Natural packaging diversity

Nowadays packaging has to do a lot, particularly in the field of sustainable natural cosmetics. On the one had it should help consumers understand the product and describe it in as much detail and as clearly as possible. On the other hand it should look good, be practical, ensure the product is safe and secure and, on top of everything, be as sustainable as possible.

These are tricky challenges which we at Speick Naturkosmetik like to tackle in many different ways. Our motto here is “As much as necessary, as little as possible.” For anyone interested, we have compiled an overview of all packaging materials used at Speick Naturkosmetik here – and also answer the most important questions on sustainability and recyclability.

Click on the corresponding keywords to find out more.

Unpackaged

An unpackaged cosmetics product is without doubt the gold standard of sustainability. The trend of unpackaged products has been growing for some years now, and we too try to sell our products unpackaged where possible. Unfortunately, this is only possible in very rare cases. For solid products, like our bars of soap, we already offer many products unpackaged. These soaps are sold “naked” in store without any additional packaging in the form of boxes, banderoles or cellulose films, making them particularly sustainable.

A label on the bottom of the soap contains all information that is subject to declaration (such as the ingredients). For liquid products such as our shower gels, shampoos or deodorants, it is not so easy to do without the packaging. They require what is know as primary packaging. In package-free shops, that is the dispensers used to fill up from. In our range it refers to the tubes, bottles or 5L refill canisters for refilling at home. Here is an overview of all products in canister size.

The use of certain raw materials as well as the type of manufacturing often do not allow us to simply turn a liquid product into a solid one. In this respect it is often not possible to do away with primary packaging.

Disposal: Remove the label on the base of the soap before use and dispose of it in the residual waste bin.

Glass

Glass can always be recycled when it is disposed of in the glass bins. As such it often seems to be a preferable alternative to plastic, at least at first glance. However, if you look at the total CO2 balance, this is not necessarily the case – because the manufacture of glass involves extremely high CO2 emissions: glass is comparatively heavy, must be packaged very securely for delivery and requires high transport costs.

Additionally, having glass products in the bathroom is also a safety risk – no one wants to deal with glass shards in the shower, sink or on the floor. And some products simply cannot be made in glass, such as deodorant sticks.

As such, we only use glass with great caution – glass is primarily used in products such as our deodorant sprays, fragrances and some shaving products.

Disposal: Separate the glass from the spray head/lid. Dispose of the glass in the waste glass. Dispose of the spray head/lid in the recycling waste.

Polyethylene (PE) and BIO PE

The polyethylene we use has many advantages over other plastics – both in terms of production and recycling. PE packaging is environmentally friendly and harmless for the soil and ground water. When disposed of in the recycling waste, PE can now usually be mechanically sorted and recycled. While many other plastics deteriorate heavily due to the thermal load sustained during processing, PE can be recycled several times without any significant damage.

Since 2016, we have gone one step further and are now using BIO PE for our packaging. This is a plastic material that is manufactured using sustainably grown sugar cane – which is a renewable raw material. This makes it fundamentally different to plastics based on petroleum. Compared to “normal” PE, BIO PE causes less CO2 emissions during its production. The sugar cane itself contributes to absorbing CO2 from the atmosphere through photosynthesis.

We have been rolling out BIO PE gradually across our range for some time now. We started with the bottles of the Speick Organic 3.0 Shower Gel and the Speick Organic 3.0 Body Lotion, which are made from 100% BIO PE. The bottles of our classic products already contain a very high percentage of BIO PE today, ranging from 88% to 93%.
This is the case for the following products: Speick Original Deo Shower Gel, Shower Gel Sensitiv and Body Lotion as well as the Speick Men Shower Gel, plus many products that come in tubes – for instance our Speick Sun and Pure series.

Our aim is to make all plastic packaging out of BIO PE.

Disposal: Dispose of in recycling waste. For optimal recycling of BIO PE tubes, dispose of the lid (PE) separately from the tube (BIO PE). The bottles of the Speick Organic 3.0 series are made of 100% BIO PE and can be disposed of as a whole (bottle, label and lid) without prior separation. Despite being made of 100% BIO PE, they still cannot be disposed of in the organic waste bin. Although BIO PE can be composted industrially, composting companies are not currently able to separate compostable and non-compostable plastics.

Recycled plastics

Parallel to the use of BIO PE for plastic packaging, we also use recycled plastics. This brings us ever closer to our goal of using exclusively BIO PE or recycled plastics in our plastic packaging – depending on availability and suitability for purpose.

Plastics are well suited to recycling by nature. So it makes sense to use this ability to protect resources. Plastic waste is a valuable secondary raw material whose reuse not only protects resources, it also uses less energy and results in fewer CO2 emissions. This could save many tonnes of fossil-fuel plastic being created anew, and the already produced materials are kept in the material cycle.

For us as a natural cosmetics manufacturer, it represents a huge challenge that natural cosmetics are subject to the same requirements as food. This is because most plastics that comply with the strict requirements on food quality are currently very difficult to recycle for packaging. Unfortunately, the result of this is a limited range of recycled plastics that can be used for food, and thereby also for natural cosmetics.

The regulatory basis for this is Commission Regulation (EC) No 282/2008, which sets down the rules on the authorisation of recycling processes for use with food. Such processes must undergo a safety assessment by the EFSA (European Food Safety Authority) and be authorised by the European Commission.

As such, pure, recycled plastics, which comply with these strict requirements, are currently extremely difficult to obtain on the market for us as a small company.

It is possible to use recycled plastics that do not comply with the food-grade standard as the main, outer layer of a package and coat it with pure virgin plastic from the inside. This produces a package made of composite material, with a higher overall weight.

Here, the percentage of recycled material in such a composite package can be communicated.

However, due to the inner coating, relatively little new plastic is saved and, in addition, recycling of such packaging may be more difficult due to the composite materials. In addition, there is the higher transport weight, which in turn results in higher CO2 emissions in logistics.

We have therefore decided against composite packaging.

Therefore, we are all the happier to announce that, in the scope of our packaging design relaunch in 2020, we were able to take the opportunity and implement recycled packaging for both our Speick Original Liquid Soap and our Speick Natural Aktiv Lip Care. Without coating them with new plastic on the inside.

On the lip care stick, the cap and base of the stick are made of 80% r-PS (recycled polystyrene). On the liquid soap, the bottle is made of 100% r-PET (recycled polyethylene terephthalate).

Disposal: Dispose of in the recycling. For optimal recycling, separate the bottle from the dispensing head and the stick cap from the stick base and dispose of in the recycling.

Polypropylene (PP)

When selecting our materials, we try to use as little material as possible in order to save material and weight in our packaging. Due to the very thin material thickness, the PE and BIO PE we use is sometimes not suitable for some products – such as our deodorant sticks or our shaving cream jars. In such cases we go back to pure polypropylene (PP), which has similar properties to PE but is harder.

Disposal: Dispose of in recycling waste.

Aluminium Tubes

We really do put a lot of thought into every packaging material we use. Packaging has to unite a lot of functions and should – for us – be as ecologically friendly as possible. For some products, especially liquid or paste products, this is not always easy and not always obvious.

We are systematically switching the majority of our packaging to BIO PE. However, for some products – for instance our Speick Thermal Sensitiv Face Cream, whose formulation is very sensitive – we favour the comparatively less ecological aluminium tubes, and do so for reasons for safety. Why? Aluminium tubes are airtight and thus keep out oxygen, protecting sensitive products from going bad. In other words, plastic tubes are always slightly permeable to the air, which can be critical for some products in terms of shelf life.

Disposal: Dispose of in recycling waste.

Paper

Many products in our range are packaged in cardboard packaging, boxes or displays. The minimum standard here is FSC certification for the paper used and a certain percentage of recycled cardboard. FSC stands for “Forest Stewardship Council” and is an international certification system for forest management. The principles of this system are valid worldwide and guarantee that wood and paper products with the FSC seal are sourced from responsibly managed forests.

In some areas – such as for our brochures or business cards – we even use Blue Angel certification. The Blue Angel is the environmental label of the Federal Government of Germany. Products and services with this label are seen as more environmentally friendly than comparable, conventional variations. The colours and inks in the print must be made of environmentally friendly materials so that the boxes and packages can be recycled in the paper bin with a clear conscience. Today, this is largely recycled. By the way, all of our business documents such as invoices and printer/copier paper are made of FSC-certified and/or recycled materials. That is simply a matter of course for us.

Disposal: Dispose of in the paper recycling.

Cellulose & wax paper

Most of our soaps reach our customers either unpackaged or in boxes. However, some of our soaps are wrapped in a transparent film, which at first glance can look like plastic packaging. This is not the case – in fact it is wood cellulose.

For our Speick Original Soap, we use a very special type of paper: before we put it in its box, our signature product is first wrapped in wax paper. We use a glassine paper with a wax coating that is not only 100% recyclable, it is also watertight and aroma-proof. Thanks to these properties, it is perfect for packaging our Speick soap so that it loses neither its scent nor its moisture.

As such, cellulose and wax paper protect our soaps from blemishes and from losing their fragrance and ensure that every bar arrives in our customer’s homes with the quality and freshness as it leaves our factory.

Disposal: For optimal recycling, dispose of wax paper in the paper recyclingand dispose of cellulose film in recycling waste. Despite 100% wood cellulose, the cellophane films unfortunately cannot be disposed of with the waste paper. Although wood cellulose can be composted industrially, composting plants are currently unable to separate compostable and non-compostable film. For optimum recycling, dispose of in the recycling waste.

© 2021 Speick Naturkosmetik