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The cosmetics and personal care industry has become increasingly concerned with clean beauty and sustainable beauty over recent years. This has arisen in response to pressure from consumers but also originated from within the companies themselves who, like many companies operating today, wish to have a positive impact on the environment. Innovations in the area of clean beauty and sustainable beauty most commonly cover sustainable or reusable packaging, sustainable manufacturing processes, environmentally benign ingredients and formulations, and sustainably sourced ingredients. This article reviews some of the patents being used to help protect developments in sustainable and reusable cosmetics packaging.
Recycled plastic packaging
L’OCCITANE have been focusing on ways to reduce the amount of waste generated by their packaging, use recycled or recyclable packaging and react to the problem of plastic waste by partnering with other organisations. In a recent initiative they have cooperated with LyondellBasell and Albéa Tubes to make cosmetics packaging part of the circular economy since the tubes and caps for their “almond” range are not only made from recycled polyethylene but are also designed to be fully recyclable. Albéa Tubes actively seek to protect their packaging innovations with global patent applications, including WO 2020193562.
Many commonly used forms of packaging comprise a combination of materials, each of which may be recyclable individually but not in combination. Hence, choosing to make cosmetic packaging from a mono-material, i.e. cosmetic packaging which is composed of only a single type of material (but potentially different forms of that material), enables the recycling of that packaging. However, it is not just a case of choosing to use a mono-material since there will often have been good reasons why a combination of materials were used previously due to the different properties imparted by each material. Innovative mono-material packaging is therefore deserving of patent protection since technical problems will have been solved during its development.
One example of innovative mono-material packaging that may be used in the cosmetic and personal care industry is the valve and dispensing apparatus developed by Aptar – see WO 2020174039. Aptar collaborated with Dermalogica and are now using Aptar’s fully recyclable mono-material pump (called “Future”) with their cleansing range. Colgate have developed their own mono-material packaging for use in toothpaste tubes, which material is a combination of different layers of high-density polyethylene (HDPE) – see WO 2020227733. Although HDPE tends to be rigid and hence is not the obvious choice for a squeezable tube, Colgate chose to develop a mono-material toothpaste tube based on HDPE since it is one of the easiest plastics to recycle and is one of the most widely recycled plastics.
Pujolasos design and make luxury packaging; their caps are used with bottles containing spirits and cosmetics products. They have three different designs of wooden caps, each of which is patent protected. Their Woodle branded cap is made from PEFC & FSC certified wood with a recyclable plastic inner that is designed such that the recyclable plastic can be easily separated from the biodegradable wood – see WO 2021014037. The Woork branded cap is also made from PEFC & FSC certified wood but has a cork inner and is plastic and glue free such that the entire cap is biodegradable – see WO 2021123486. The Woorigin branded cap is a mono-material cap made from PEFC & FSC certified wood that is designed to “click” when used on a bottle with a collar – see WO 2021214365.
Samhwa have pursued another way to make cosmetics packaging more sustainable by developing refillable containers such as their glass airless bottle for liquid cosmetics and their cosmetic container for powdered cosmetics – see US 2021378382. Refillable containers may be designed to be aesthetically pleasing and luxurious in appearance and feel whilst providing an environmental benefit due to their suitability for reuse.
Many of the patent attorneys in AA Thornton’s Clean Tech group have experience in securing patent protection for a variety of packaging technologies. If you work in this area and would like to know more about how we can help you protect your innovations, then please do not hesitate to get in touch.
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