We’ve spent hundreds of hours agonising over this question and for now we have decided not to use these types of packing. This is because they break two of the three golden rules of environmental sustainability, which are:
Reduce > Reuse > Recycle
Biodegradeable and compostibale materials discourage or prevent reuse and recycling.
Let’s look at the difference between “biodegradable” and “compostable”.
Biodegradable broadly means that an object can be biologically broken down into smaller parts; while compostable means that the process of breaking the object down will result in compost, or humus.
Biodegradable materials (that aren’t compostable) are derived from crude oil, which has been treated with chemicals to make it biodegradable.
Compostable materials are made from plant-derived materials.
Here are the main reasons we made the choice we did. If you have an opinion on this we’d love to hear from you. Please email us here.
What are the drawbacks of using compostable materials?
Cosmetic packaging needs a plastic like barrier layer for protection. The way to make this biodegradable is to use PLA (A kind of starch) but this can’t be composted at home. There’s mixed advice on how households should dispose of PLA (polylactic acid) packaging. Currently, most councils in the UK don’t accept compostable packaging in food or garden waste collections, so some companies have recommended that you recycle PLA instead.
When WHICH? checked this advice out with Defra and (Waste Resources & Action Programme), they strongly discouraged this, saying that PLA can contaminate plastic recycling.
So the only option left is to throw PLA in the bin which defeats the object of compostable packaging!
PLA was one of the most widely-used types of compostable packaging WHICH? came across, but until a proper method of disposal is in place, PLA appears to be no greener than normal plastic.
- Composting requires a lot of heat, light and oxygen and so usually needs to be done in specialist units rather than at home. Most councils don’t have composting facilities and so compostable items go to landfill defeating the object of the item being compaotable.
- If compostable material is accidentally put into the recycling stream, it can contaminate all the other materials, meaning that the whole batch can’t be recycled.
- If you do manage to compost PLA the composting process gives off methane which is the most dangerous greenhouse gas
- The crops used to make compostable material use large amounts of land, water, fertilizers and pesticides which are themselves pollutants. The land could otherwise be used for food production which is the next big problem.
- The material is lost forever and so new material needs to be created. This totally goes against the currently accepted best practice of reduce > reuse > recycle.
What are the drawbacks of biodegradable materials?
Biodegradable materials should not be put in the brown bin, as they may not be compostable.
They should not be put with your recycling, as they may not be recyclable.
Biodegradable material should be put in with your general waste for landfill. Landfills are not designed to break down waste, only to store it.
If biodegradable material is accidentally put into the recycling stream, it can contaminate all the other materials, meaning that the whole batch can’t be recycled.
Biodegradable materials need sunlight and oxygen to break down, these aren’t usually available in landfill and if they are then the material only breaks down into smaller bits of plastic which doesn’t solve the problem completely.
The biodegrading process gives off methane which is the most dangerous greenhouse gas
The material is lost forever in the landfill and so new material needs to be created. This totally goes against the currently accepted best practice of reduce > reuse > recycle.
So what should I do to help?
You should stop using single-use materials wherever possible (and this includes compostable or biodegradable options).
You should stop buying products that use excessive packaging. For example outer boxes, Heavy glass jars or double wall jars. They look nice but they are deadly for the environment.
You should only use recyclable materials and you should reuse or recycle everything you can.
You should put pressure on your waste collection authority to ensure they are following best practice.
You should remember that every NEW single use item and every biodegradable and compostable item takes unnecessary amounts of land, water, and energy to produce. Recycling massively reduces the resources needed.
You should always think: reduce > reuse > recycle.
Was this article useful to you? If you have an opinion please email us here.
Our pouches are made from kraft paper lined with polyethylene plastic (PE) to keep our products fresh.
Both of these materials are recyclable in their own right, and when they are fused together to create a pouch they can still be recycled. They have a recycling grade of R7 which means they are grouped with “Other” plastics and can be used to make other plastic parts such as dog toys, park benches and car panels.
Not only are our pouches recyclable but they are incredibly environmentally friendly for these three reasons:
They are almost zero waste
The number one rule in protecting the environment is to avoid using packaging material in the first place and our pouches use a tiny amount of plastic and paper.
A 500 ml pouch uses 8 or 9 g of plastic AND paper combined. Compare this with a 200 ml PET jar which uses 35 g of plastic or a double wall glass jar which uses a massive 280 g of material to store just 50 ml of cosmetics.
The manufacturing and distribution carbon footprint is tiny
Because they weigh so little their carbon footprint is negligible, the energy to make them, and the carbon cost of storage and distribution are infinitesimally small compared with other types of cosmetic packaging, especially when compared with glass which uses huge amounts of fossil fuels to make and to deliver.
They are landfill friendly – In case your local authority doesn’t recycle
Not every curbside collector recycles waste, many still rely on landfill which isn’t ideal. Riyafa pouches are landfill friendly. They tend not to blow around and end up in the ocean and because they are so small and flat they use very, very little landfill space.
Over the life-cycle of a pouch there is no other cosmetic packaging whose green credentials even come close.
We considered using Biodegradable pouches or the time being, here’s why.
Recycling collection and processing technology has improved and demand for the recyclable material has increased meaning the process works better if you leave the lids on (You can leave the labels on as well).
During recycling bottles and jars are ground into flake before being vigorously washed. The washed cap material is then separated from the bottle material during a water bath float/sink process. PET sinks, PP floats. It’s as easy as that.
Riyafa bottles and jars are made from PET, caps, pumps and sprays are made from polypropylene (PP). Both are widely used in recycled form.
Yes we do, although our packaging is so minimalistic that this is less important for Riyafa than for the big brands.
For example a typical mainstream 50ml glass double wall jar weighs 226g. Compare this with our recyclable PET jar which weighs just 35g for a capacity of 200ml. Our recyclable stand up pouch does even better coming in at just 9 g for a capacity of up to 400 g/ml of Riyafa product.
Our argan oil spray bottles are refillable and you can buy a large 250ml refill bottle which will last for ages. You can also buy Savon Noir 400 gram pouches to refill your jars or jars for life.
Many of our smaller spray and pump bottles can be bought with a simply cap, letting you use the dispenser from your old bottle when it’s empty.
Look out for the refill tab on each product page to see the refill options.
Contact us at [email protected] and we will resolve your problem. We have a no quibble refund policy in addition to your statutory legal rights.
Yes, the law doesn’t require cosmetic products and ingredients, except for color additives, to be approved by FDA.
They must meet approved labelling requirements, not make unsubstantiated claims and not contain chemicals on the FDA banned list. Riyafa products meet all FDA prescribed requirements.
No, sales tax is not automatically charged on imported goods and duty is not charged on imports with a value of less than 800 USD.
We use Spain’s Correos delivery service to deliver worldwide; these are their estimated delivery times:
US: 7 to 10 days
UK and the EU: 5 to 7 days
Spain: 2 to 3 days
At Riyafa we work hard every day to minimise our impact on the environment. Argan Oil sales have had a massive impact on tree planting in Morocco and unlike other oils such as palm oil which replace existing rain forests, argan trees grow in the desert and are a totally new carbon capture resource.
We also support the Moroccan High Atlas Foundation by sponsoring projects that help improve peoples lives, while at the same time reducing their impact on the environment.
We prefer this approach to other schemes that simply fund tree planting as it has many of the benefits and also directly improves people lives.
Whenever you buy a Riyafa product we make a contribution to the High Atlas Foundation on your behalf.
“The planet is in crisis – from climate change to the pollution in our oceans and devastation of our forests. It’s up to all of us to fix it. The beauty sector generated over 142 billion units of packaging last year – most of which ended up in landfill or in the ocean.”
Plastic is still the most sustainable and safest choice but all plastics are not the same. We use PET and HDPE which are the two most recycled plastics (Number 1 and 2 out of 7 on the plastic recycling league table) and are accepted by most curbside recycling schemes.
Some parts such as spray heads can only be made from PP (Number 5 out of 7 on the plastic recycling league table) but unlike the mainstream manufacturers where PP is the preferred choice these make up a very small proportion of our packaging.
We follow these four golden rules when choosing our packaging:
Keep the amount of material used as small and light as possible.
We don’t use double wall jars and we supply larger sized options which improves the ratio of product to packaging and can be used to refill our Moroccan pots.
Ensure the packaging carbon footprint is as small as possible
Our packaging is manufactured in Europe, although Chinese packaging costs less the carbon footprint, even when shipped by sea, is too high for us to consider.
We offset our carbon footprint with donations to the High Atlas Foundation whose projects help the people and their environment
Make sure the packaging is reusable and refillable
All our packaging can be reused and refilled. We encourage you to repurpose rather than throw away. You can buy our beautiful Moroccan pots which will last forever and can be topped up from our larger sized containers.
Make sure the packaging is recyclable
We use as much highly recyclable plastic as possible; most of our packaging material is Number 1 and 2 out of 7 on the plastic recycling league table.
We’re always looking for the most sustainable way to package and deliver Riyafa products and would love to hear your ideas on this, you can email us here.
The Sahara is the largest hot desert in the world and one of the harshest environments on Earth. It covers 3.6 million square miles (9.4 million square kilometers), nearly a third of the African continent.
It’s approximately the size of the United States and has grown by 10% over the last 100 years as rainfall has become more erratic as a result of climate change.
Argan trees play a crucial role in the battle against desertification; the trees have long roots that can reach down into deep pockets of groundwater. This extensive root system plays an important role in stabilizing the soil and preventing desertification.
In the 1970s argan trees were being lost at a rate of 600 hectares a year, but the success of Argan oil has halted deforestation. There are now more than 800,000 hectares of argan forests in Morocco, with the government planning to plant another 200,000 hectares.
Riyafa skincare products are as close as possible to zero waste. Take the example of Riyafa Argan Oil. After the oil is extracted by hand, the flesh of the nut is fed to the goats. The discarded kernels and shells are used as fuel for cooking.
Packaging is a significant part of the cosmetics industries carbon footprint. It’s a challenging area with no perfect solution.
There are ways you can minimize your environmental impact. One of the best is to simply repurpose empty jars and bottles rather than throw them away.
Rifaya packaging is designed to minimize our impact on the Planet:
- We use the least packaging possible to ensure product integrity and safety.
- We use lightweight recyclable PET plastic jars and bottles that can be refilled.
- We use recycled, unbleached and recyclable cardboard delivery packaging.
- We offer refills in low impact packaging.
- We offer everlasting refillable Moroccan Ceramic Jars.
- We offer larger pack sizes to reduce the percentage of packaging used.
- We encourage you to reuse our bottles and jars for storage of other items
Here’s why we chose PET Plastic for our packaging
After a lot of research we decided that while it’s not the perfect solution PET Plastic is the least worst solution for our packaging and is much better than the alternatives
PET is a recyclable Plastic that looks like glass. rPET is a version that is both recyclable AND uses recycled PET, the percentage of recycled material in rPET varies by manufacturer but is generally increasing and we will follow that trend.
52% of PET used in the European Union is recycled through curbside recycling schemes
PET containers are strong, shatterproof and very light meaning that less packing and energy is needed for safe delivery of your order.
All our containers are reusable and refillable.
Glass is too heavy and uses too much energy to produce
Although glass is a popular and stylish solution for cosmetics, and despite being recyclable, Glass is much heavier than the alternatives and so has the biggest overall carbon footprint. It also uses huge amounts of fossil fuels to produce.
Non Recyclable Plastic Pollutes for 1000s of years
Plastics are ubiquitous in the beauty industry and even non-recyclable plastics have a low overall carbon footprint due to their very low weight.
However there is a major problem with plastic packaging: The beauty sector generated over 142 billion units of packaging last year – most of which ended up in landfill or in the ocean!
PET Plastics can be pollutants too and they aren’t compostable so it’s important you use your local recycling scheme or reuse them!
Aluminium uses too much electricity
Aluminium is one of the most environmentally friendly metals on the planet. It’s also the most recycled metal.
The problem is that making aluminium uses a LOT of electricity.
The best producers get 95% of their energy from renewable sources, the worse (China) get 93% of their power from coal. The problem is that most aluminium cosmetic containers use Chinese aluminium and it is very hard to find out how much of this (If any) is recycled.