Insider Tips: sourcing sustainable beauty packaging materials

By Deanna Utroske

- Last updated on GMT

© Getty Images \ (dusanpetkovic)
© Getty Images \ (dusanpetkovic)
Andrew Dent, EVP of Material ConneXion, has actionable ideas about finding quantifiably sustainable packaging, the realities of recycling, and how greener practices can mean increased value for consumers and companies. Ahead of this year’s Sustainable Cosmetics Summit in New York City, Cosmetics Design checked in with Dent to get a preview of his sustainability tips.

At the Sustainable Cosmetics Summit this May, Dent is giving a workshop about reducing packaging impacts and will be helping beauty makers think broadly about sourcing new green packaging materials and how best to evaluate the options and design for the full life-cycle of product packaging.


Material ConneXion is a library of sorts, a material-focused design resource owned by Sandow Media that helps companies from a spectrum of industries (including architecture, interior design, shoes and apparel, and packaging) source materials that can add value to their products and projects.

Andrew Dent is the executive vice president of Material ConneXion and describes his work this way: “I oversee the additions to our 8,000 strong materials library through leading our jury process. I also head up our consulting division that has helped most of the top Fortune 500 brands that produce for consumers.” ​So he’s seen a lot of innovative materials and hand a hand in a lot of successful projects.

Insider tips

Sourcing, designing, and building sustainable packaging into an existing personal care, cosmetics, fragrance, or wellness business isn’t without its challenges. Asked how beauty makers can overcome such challenges, Dent asks, “Isn’t sustainability really just efficiency in many cases?” ​and then advises, “Look for where you can make viable reductions and simplifications. And let your consumers know how and why you made the change! Bake sustainability into every aspect of the business till it becomes second nature and just a way of making things more streamlined.”  

To offsetting any added costs, he suggests that brands and manufacturers alike “redesign with the new material in mind, and create greater value with higher engagement.”

“Do not,”​ Dent emphasizes, “simply replace an ordinary material with a sustainable one in the same package. You are likely to create a cost increase.”​ And he tells Cosmetics Design that beauty makers should “look for solutions outside of…existing channels and vendors. There are more opportunities than what your local rep is showing you!”

Sustainable stuff

To be sustainable, packaging material has to at the very least be readily available and not detrimental to the natural environment. Sometimes this means it’s derived from naturally occurring plants or creatures, sometimes not.

At Material ConneXion, say Dent, “We prefer to base our assessments upon quantifiable data. Whether carbon footprint, recycled content, water use, chemical composition or recyclability, if it can be measured, we are interested in it, and only if it is measurable do we consider it a viable way to look at sustainability.”

Cosmetics Design asked Dent, What 3 materials are readily available today that would make beauty packaging more environmentally sustainable but are either not being used or are being dramatically underused?

His reply: “More PCR polymer resins! Yes, there are many who use them, but we need more and more, in order to take the virgin sources out of the supply chain. 

“Bio-engineered solutions such as algae, fungi and bacteria. We have seen the start of this revolution, but there needs to be a change in the way in which we look at these opportunities. The major players should be deep in the research into how we make the materials viable at large scale.                     

“Nano-cellulose. Yes; it's a technical material, but can be made into foams, for strengthening parts and as coatings, all from the humble tree.”

Learn more about the Sustainable Cosmetics Summit, taking place May 8 – 10 in New York City, and Andrew Dent’s workshop session by clicking here​.



Deanna Utroske, Editor, covers beauty business news in the Americas region and publishes the weekly Indie Beauty Profile column, showcasing the inspiring work of entrepreneurs and innovative brands.

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