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Environment

Green packaging development set to boost industry

Toxicologists from Heriot-Watt University in Edinburgh have announced details of a new biodegradable packaging that could help cosmetics firms meet demand for greener packaging.

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The packaging is made from polylactic acid, which can be obtained from renewable resources such as corn starch or sugar cane

Developed with partners right across Europe, the BioBeauty project focused on biopackaging and offering the same environmental credentials as the products it contains.  

The new packaging is made from polylactic acid (PLA), which can be obtained from renewable resources such as corn starch or sugar cane, and is compostable and biodegradable.

Dr Helinor Johnston, associate professor of toxicology at Heriot-Watt, says that although PLA was selected as the plastic, in order to improve the performance of this plastic and increase the shelf life of the cosmetic product, researchers had to incorporate two different materials.  
 
“We added nano clays, which improve the barrier properties of the product, and a rosemary extract which acts as an antioxidant to protect the cosmetic product from degradation,” Johnston says.

“As toxicologists, we know that even natural ingredients like rosemary can be toxic in the right dose. At Heriot-Watt we tested the toxicity of the rosemary extracts and different types of nano clays to select the least toxic candidates for the final product, to ensure it is safe for consumers.
 

Brands that develop natural and organic products need packaging that aligns with their philosophy and consumer demand for more environmentally-friendly packaging that reduces waste

“We focused on assessing potential harmful impacts on the skin, but also looked at the response of target sites like the liver and immune system. We had to establish the toxicological profile of the individual components, as well as the potential risk to the consumer from any migration of the packaging components of the final product.”
 
Johnston adds: “We’re creating better ways to test products ethically. As part of this project, we used artificial skin to provide a more comprehensive assessment of how the packaging might react with skin.”

Such was the success of the project that Johnston and the team believe the new biopackaging has huge potential in the cosmetics market.
 
“Brands that develop natural and organic products need packaging that aligns with their philosophy and consumer demand for more environmentally-friendly packaging that reduces waste,” Johnston says.
 
“This is a huge opportunity for the industry to gain a competitive advantage - a recent survey showed that over 70% of European consumers would be willing to pay more for greener packaging.”

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Jason Corn   View users other comments

Monday, 09 Mar 2020 13:17 GMT
User since 09/03/2020

So in UK all the councils I have spoken to will not process PLA within it's composting facility. So have you found any UK councils that will process this waste for it to compost as it should.

Avatar

Jason Corn   View users other comments

Monday, 09 Mar 2020 13:17 GMT
User since 09/03/2020

So in UK all the councils I have spoken to will not process PLA within it's composting facility. So have you found any UK councils that will process this waste for it to compost as it should.