Rating: Not great
- Most ingredients are readily biodegradable
- Palm oil sources due to be certified in 2019
- Available in large size
- Main ingredient is water
- Contains methylisothiazolinone
- Packaging for regular version is difficult to recycle
St Ives is a skincare brand that are made with the intention of bringing the joy of nature to your skin while making it glow. The brand is owned by Unilever.
Three of the top four ingredients in their Fresh Skin Apricot Scrub are carrier liquids – including the main ingredient, which is water. This suggests that this product could be more concentrated. Providing a more concentrated product reduces packaging requirements and transport emissions.
Some of these ingredients could be derived from palm oil. Unilever aims to use 100% RSPO certified palm oil by 2019, up from 19% in 2015. Because it is such a large company, this is a significant commitment. Palm oil sources that are certified by the RSPO have a lower environmental impact during production.
The exfoliating granules are walnut shell and corn meal. These are a good choice, assuming that they come from sustainable sources. They will probably be released to the environment after waste water treatment, but once in the environment they should break down over time like other plant matter.
The key soap ingredients are toxic to aquatic life. They are also readily biodegradable, which means a large amount should be broken down during waste water treatment, but a small amount will still be released to the environment after treatment.
Titanium dioxide is included as a colouring agent. The mining of the substances needed to produce this chemical can have environmental impacts. Titanium dioxide can also contain some nanoparticles. The environmental impacts of nanoparticles are currently not well known.
The fragrances in this product are just listed as “fragrance”. There is no way to know what these chemicals are or what their environmental impact may be. Two ingredients – limonene and linalool – are often present in products as part of essential oils. It is not clear if they are included in this product as part of essential oils, or if they have been added separately. Limonene is very toxic to aquatic life, but readily biodegradable.
Conversely, the preservative methylisothiazolinone is very toxic to aquatic life and not readily biodegradable. This means waste water treatment will likely be less effective at removing this chemical, and a large amount will be released to the environment.
This regular version of this scrub comes in a flexible plastic tube. Unfortunately, it is difficult to recycle this type of plastic. Terracycle accepts this type of packaging for recycling, but it is not always collected in kerbside recycling. This reduces the chance of the packaging being recycled, and increases the chance of it going to landfill.
The larger version comes in a plastic tub, which is easier to recycle and often collected in kerbside programs. Buying bulk sizes also reduces packaging requirements and transport emissions. As a result, the larger version comes in much closer to an okay rating than the regular version. If you are purchasing this product, go for the tub where you can.
But does it work?
Considering how well a product works is a big factor in determining whether a product is a good one or not. A product that does not work is a waste.
Image credit: Abigail Sutomo