Beyond actives – Increasing personal care product sustainability by holistic design
Organizer: Richard Blackburn, Associate Professor, University of Leeds
Although great strides have been made in recent years, many cosmetic and personal care products still come under scrutiny for their adverse impact on the environment, particularly considering that the majority of the formulation of many cosmetic products are vehicles to deliver an active ingredient, which is typically present at levels of under 5% by weight. Current news has also highlighted issues in marine ecosystems, raising concerns about cosmetic ingredients such as polyethylene microbeads, plastic glitters, and sunscreens. There is growing consumer pressure on brands to reduce packaging in cosmetic and personal care products. Eco-design approaches are being made, but does how do changes in packaging materials affect the overall environmental footprint and are bio-plastics a sustainable alternative. Green chemistry innovation is also needed in cosmetic delivery systems, particularly aerosols where pressurized organic solvents are used, which present both environmental and toxicity issues. Consideration should also be given to the environmental cost of transporting products which by weight are often mainly water.
In this session, participants will be challenged to use green chemistry principles to design a whole product system for delivery of an active ingredient (1% w/v) extracted from a natural resource. This will require expertise from different fields to solve this problem through a team approach. The teams will need to balance function and aesthetics with sustainability and economics.
Session attendees will leave with an understanding of why it is important to consider every aspect of product design in trying to achieve true sustainability, which goes beyond one magic ‘green’ ingredient.