Victoria Brownlie on the Government’s extended single-use plastic ban: ‘I feel confident that the industry can work together to find solutions’

by | Oct 5, 2023

Plastic cutlery, polystyrene cups and food containers are now banned as part of the Government’s efforts to cut plastic pollution. Here’s what the British Beauty Council is doing to reduce single-use packaging in beauty

The next phase in the government’s plans to tackle single-use plastics has been enacted this month, with plastic cutlery, polystyrene cups and food containers now banned. This follows a ban on plastic cotton buds and straws in 2020, and the introduction of a plastics tax in 2021.

With this ban affecting hospitality significantly, the beauty industry must continue its work in phasing out single-use plastic within the industry. Victoria Brownlie, Chief Policy Officer at the British Beauty Council commented: ‘At the Council, we want to keep driving momentum to find sustainable and regenerative alternatives to many of the other single-use plastic items that the industry has become so reliant on.’

According to the Courage to Change report, 95% of beauty packaging is thrown away, and recycling isn’t the answer, with only 14% of this single-use packaging making it to the recycling plant. However, an increasing number of beauty businesses are putting their best foot forward when it comes to reducing plastic sachets, pouches, more. 

‘Single-use plastics is an area where the beauty and personal care industry is really investing to find smarter alternatives and we really welcome this,’ continued Brownlie, before saying: ‘Case and point, brands and retailers have already phased out and replaced wipes that contain plastic before any legislation has even come into force.’

Holland & Barrett led the charge in this area, banning the sale of all wet wipes in 2019, with Boots, Superdrug and high-street retailer Aldi following. 

Knowing the damage that wipes do to the planet and waterways, Environment Minister Thérèse Coffey has also committed to a ban on wet wipes containing plastic in England as part of plans to reduce water pollution. This is expected to become law in 2024.

Other brands cutting single-use from their supply chains in innovative and exciting ways are Elemis – is working with Xampla and Plastic Free to create a biodegradable sachet made from crop wastage – and Beauty Kitchen’s ‘Reposit’ campaign which takes refill to the next level. Both brands work closely with the British Beauty Council’s Sustainable Beauty Coalition to ensure these innovations are shared far and wide.

‘With the Sustainable Beauty Coalition, which includes the brightest and best environmental minds of the beauty industry, I feel confident that we can work together to find solutions and push towards our net zero targets,’ finishes Brownlie. 

News of the ban comes as the Council hosts its second Plastic Solutions Summit which brings together industry leaders to highlight the opportunities that come with adopting plastic-free systems and the challenges that new strategies pose for scalability – so that they can be tackled together. 

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