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Why We Use the Packaging We Do

Why We Use the Packaging We Do

Posted by Michele Zagorski on 30th Sep 2019

Why Zagórska chose 'Airless' ABS Plastic Containers

Over the years, some of you have asked me about our packaging, and the reason behind our choices. Since I find myself answering these questions from time to time, I’ve decided to put it all in a blog post. Here’s why we chose our containers, and the benefits they offer. I’ve also included some of my personal reasons for using them.

In our early product development stages, one of our biggest concerns was packaging. Zagórska is a sustainable, eco-conscious brand, and we aim to maintain that value in every aspect. Many factors of our end products were within our control- ingredients, preservatives, formulation, and so on. But when it came to packaging, we quickly realized just how limited our options are as a micro business, as most packaging suppliers require minimum order sizes of 5,000 units per container type and size. Eventually, we chose airless ABS plastic containers.

What are ABS Plastics?

ABS plastics are a very common type of thermoplastic polymer that's been around since the 1940's (Did you play with Legos as a kid?  Yep, ABS plastic).  ABS is one of the most widely used types of plastic, is food and drink safe, and we encounter it every day in our refrigerators, computer keyboards, cell phones and cases, helmets, luggage, car bumpers, medical supplies, switch plates, and anything 3D printed.  It's used so frequently that it's the largest-selling engineering thermoplastic.

Benefits of ABS Plastic

It is recyclable

ABS is made of thermoplastic material, which means that it is 100% recyclable. In fact, one of the most common sources of ABS is other recycled ABS, as it can be repeatedly melted down and reshaped.  For our brand, this was a very important deciding factor. Our buyers can safely dispose of their product containers, knowing that they will be recycled to create new products. While most recycling centers can handle ABS, not every company can, so contact your local center and ask.

It is impact and chemical resistant

This polymer is quite sturdy, and can resist high impact. Most of our sales happen online, which means that we ship out a bulk of our products. Using ABS gives us the security that our customers are unlikely to receive damaged products. We don’t have to worry about broken containers or spills.

ABS is also very resistant to breakdown, and ensures the purity of your products, even if in contact with corrosive chemicals.  It’s good to know that if your products ever come in contact with harsh chemicals e.g., cleaning products under your bathroom sink, then they will be safe from contamination.

Lightweight and durable

When packaging products, choosing a lightweight container is key. Imagine how heavy our 6 oz. Magnesium Lotion would be if it came in a glass bottle.  ABS plastic is a perfect fit because it can hold large quantities of products, while contributing as little to the gross weight as possible. Lightweight means less fuel is used in transporting the containers.  In fact, recent studies argue plastic containers are more eco-friendly than glass due to a lower carbon footprint (see below).

It also means less shipping and packing materials are needed (all packing materials we use such as bubble wrap, etc...are re-used from shipments sent to Zagórska). We do purchase kraft paperboard boxes and tissue, both made from recycled materials.

"A 2008 comparison of glass and plastic baby food jars, for example, found that the glass jars produce between a quarter and a third more greenhouse gases than plastic jars. In fact, the plastic jars bested the glass in almost every category: They released fewer carcinogens into the air, sent fewer pollutants into waterways and required less acreage."

  Read more of this article.

No known health effects

As a skincare packaging material, ABS is known to be safe for use. ABS contains no known carcinogens that could cause the formation of cancer cells or cause mutation in cells.

Why We Use 'Airless' Packaging

Most of our packaging designs are a combination of ABS plastic and tin containers. These containers are designed to be airless. An airless container uses a single-directional pump to dispense a product. This means that it does not allow air (or anything else, like bacteria) to go back into the container after use, unlike regular dispensers.  You may have noticed the airless dispensers don't have a long dip tube.  That's because they work using a high-tech vacuum system instead.

It prevents cross-contamination

Everything around us holds bacteria. Even our hands. When we apply our skincare, it’s expected that we dip our fingers into several containers. This poses a risk of transferring bacteria from one product to the next, or from our hands to the product, leading to contamination. With airless packaging, the dispenser pushes out the product we need so we don’t have to dip our fingers inside. It also prevents air from flowing back into the container. This is great because just like our hands, the air around us also holds bacteria, the four most common being Micrococcus, Staphylococcus, Bacillus, and Pseudomonas.

It reduces the need for preservative/supports natural preservatives

Preservatives are used to keep product ingredients fresh and also fight bacteria that are introduced while using the products. Several common preservatives are laden with hormone disrupters and parabens, which of course we don't want in our products.  We can significantly reduce the use of preservatives, and use an EcoCert Certified preservative accepted worldwide for use in organic products, with airless packaging. 

Once our products are packaged in a sterile environment, they are not introduced to general air again. This type of packaging, combined with our natural preservatives, has been proven to get the job done. In fact, we submitted our products to an independent lab to do microbiology challenge testing (tests for microorganisms).  The ISO (International Organization for Standardization) standards consider it acceptable for a topical application product to have levels of up to 1,000 CFU (colony forming units) per gram.  All Zagórska products tested had results at or below 5 CFU!  

It preserves sensitive formulas

A beauty product doesn’t necessarily have to go bad to lose its quality. Product quality can be compromised by exposure to air.  Some ingredients, such as retinol, become highly unstable and will begin to degrade if exposed to air.  Over a short period of time, the product will lose its potency. This is impossible with airless containers as they function with vacuum technology.  Airless containers protect our sensitive formulas from environmental factors that could affect their quality.

Zagórska containers are beautiful

Besides all the hard facts and technical reasons, we have a more personal motive for choosing these containers; We want to bring more joy into your life.  When you look at your Zagórska products set out in a row, or pick one up to use, you are having an aesthetic encounter, literally touching beauty, and through use, creating beauty.  This is time for you, about you... 

Future packaging options

I keep my eye on packaging options, and there are some really exciting things happening, such as Biomass Plastic or Bioplastics.  These plastics are created from renewable resources, such as hemp, and most are biodegradable.  They are used mostly in the food industry, and while not available yet for body and beauty products, I believe it's just a matter of time.  

Conclusion

Our packaging options are carefully selected to give users the best quality while staying mindful of our environmental impact. There are several benefits to using airless ABS plastic containers. However, we’re not where we want to be yet- 100% green.

As Zagórska end users, help us towards our goal of being 100% green. While we work towards more environment-friendly packaging, remember to reuse and recycle the current options. While I can't accept returns of used containers to reuse, you can do it at home!  Just use a chopstick or something similar to push the diaphragm disc to the bottom of the container, run it through a sanitizing option in your dishwasher, refill and reuse!  

You should be able to get 3-4 more uses out of your container before sending it for recycling.  If you have any other questions about our packaging, please leave them in the comment section or reach out to me directly. I would love to hear from you.

Stay Beautiful!

-Michele