Glass, bio-plastic or PET?

The subject of packaging: much discussed, often controversial and with good reason. If there is an argument for it, there is also one against it. You quickly get stuck in weeks of research, but in the end you are even more confused than at the beginning. For non-experts, the choice of the so-called “best packaging” quickly means total overload.

Yeah, I’m with them too. Among those who, perhaps a little naive at first, believed that glass was the best and most environmentally friendly packaging choice for my natural cosmetics. It can be, but not in every case. And not in my case.

Glass it shall be! But then…

Glass is the most environmentally friendly, looks beautiful, has a good reputation and is popular. So at the beginning of SHEA YEAH I ordered, inspected and tested glass jars in all shapes, colours and sizes.

But I was uncertain and not 100% satisfied. Glass is so heavy. How do I stack it? How do I ship it? How does the weight affect the transport? Question after question. The search for the right packaging dragged on. No clarity in sight. Finally I contacted WWF and other environmental organisations.

My packaging research – also in Ghana

Sandra mit Kosmetik-Verpackung auf dem Rücken in Ghana
Accra, Ghana. Me with a bag of locally produced PET cans. Turned out to be unsuitable after all 🙂
Mission Packaging: Here in the industrial quarter in the capital of Ghana, in Accra. I visited various packaging factories, waited for hours for clarifications.

Packaging correspondence with the WWF

«Good afternoon, the search for the most environmentally friendly jar for my cosmetic products is proving to be quite difficult. Can you give me a recommendation which of the following materials is the least harmful to the environment. PET, PP, aluminium, recycled aluminium, tinplate or glas.» Best regards Sandra Fischer

Two answers, one short and one detailed, reached me (in October 2016). Here the short one:

«I am very pleased that you are actively working to make our consumption more environmentally friendly. Choose the packaging that is most compatible with the product or that allows the longest shelf life and least loss of product use (size and closure to suit consumer needs).

If the above points apply to all variants, I would prioritise as follows (analogous to the results of the BAFU study on beverage packaging)

1. Plastics like PET, PE, PP or PLA
2. recycled aluminium
3. aluminium
4. tinplate
5. glass»

So the testing continued after the best can. This time according to the criterion of the customers’ needs. So my choice fell on PET cans with aluminium lids.

Packaging concept by environmental engineer

…in connection with the relaunch of SHEA YEAH I took up the topic 2018 again. It left me no peace. But this time I got support. Martina Wirsch von Tiefgrün, an environmental engineer from ETH Zurich, took on this task. She carried out detailed investigations at various locations. The results were exciting and showed that the “perfect packaging” I wanted simply did not exist. There is no getting around compromises. The best choice for SHEA YEAH for the moment is still PET with ALU. You can have a look at the packaging concept here.

Karte mit Sheabutter auf dem Containerschiff Tracking

Container-boat Tracking

The disillusionment about the slightly more ecological import by sea instead of air hit me in 2019, when I downloaded for the first time a “Vessel Tracking App” to track the container ship with our shea butter. The shipping traffic on our seas is unbelievably large. Admittedly, I thought it was great to see what’s going on on the water and under which countries the respective fleets sail. #logistics newcomer 🙂

In addition, it drew up a list of recommendations on the basis of the analyses. In 2019, I was able to take a step forward in terms of logistics technology: Shifting the import from aircraft to ship. But that’s not the end of the story, there’s still a lot to do. For a small company like SHEA YEAH, however, these optimisations can only be achieved step by step. But I will stay on it, I promise! Because the topic moves me and I want to make SHEA YEAH as sustainable as possible.


Feel like buying natural cosmetics in PET cans? Or only PET cans 🙂

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