As the demand for personal-care products has grown, billions of single-use plastics have been created and thrown into landfills. With this in mind, the student team behind the beauty brand Urth – Hah Kyoung Kim, Osbaldo D. Alvarez, and Andi Li – has designed a sustainable lipstick.
“A small lipstick, with the conventional design we are used to, will never be recycled in the current industrial world,” said the students. “They can therefore be more hazardous to the environment than large bulk items that tend to be treated at their end-of-life.”
The team focused on simplified, minimal waste construction that repurposed materials that would otherwise go unused throughout the design process. Inexpensive maintenance, rapid growth, and minimal use of fossil fuels make this material almost waste-free, the team added.
Urth’s sliding lipstick is refillable and comes in biodegradable packaging made of thermoplastic algae developed by UC San Diego’s Center for Renewable Materials. According to Urth, its lipstick cases and cartridges can disintegrate in compost bins in 12 weeks.
Furthermore, algae weren’t just used as a container for its lipstick but also the main ingredient for the lipstick itself. Being rich in carotenoids, a natural pigment, the team extracted the algae’s pigments to produce vivid colours for the cosmetic.
Unfortunately, 40 per cent of the lipstick’s formula is still derived from petroleum. The team seeks to build up to 98-per-cent renewable content in two to three years; and proposing a more eco-friendly approach to the shopping process, which uses algae paper for packaging and electric trucks for delivery.