- Wipes can be composted
- Most ingredients are readily biodegradable
- Many ingredients are not toxic to aquatic life
- Source of wipe materials unclear
- Outer packaging difficult to recycle
- Contains EDTA and Vitamin E
Simple Skincare is a skincare brand focused on products for sensitive skin. The brand is owned by Unilever.
A lot of resources go into the manufacture of cleansing wipes – and because the wipes are only used once before being disposed, their environmental impact quickly adds up. If you are wanting to reduce the environmental impact of your personal care products, this could be a product category to avoid altogether. Using a soft face cloth with water or a cleanser instead would save resources and reduce the amount of waste produced. The rating for this product is for its environmental impact compared to other cleansing wipes – find out more here.
The ingredients in these cleansing wipes are mainly cleaning agents (primarily ethoxylated alcohols) and preservatives. Aside from the EDTA, all these ingredients should be readily biodegradable. Some ingredients are harmful to aquatic life, but none appear to be more toxic than this.
One preservative – EDTA – is not readily biodegradable. It can be released to the environment after wastewater treatment, where it can persist for an extended period of time. This chemical can also increase exposure to heavy metals in waterways and interfere with normal nutrient cycles.
The wipes also contain Vitamin B5 and Vitamin E. Neither of these ingredients are readily biodegradable. While Vitamin B5 is not toxic to aquatic life, Vitamin E is harmful to aquatic life. Because it is not readily biodegradable, more of it will be released to the environment after wastewater treatment where it may cause environmental impacts.
The Simple Skincare website says that the wipes themselves are made from sustainably sourced wood pulp and renewable plant fibres. While recycled content would be best, this still sounds promising – but no further information is provided. It would be good to know if these sustainable wood pulp sources are certified, and how sustainable the production of the renewable plant fibres is. The wipes are labelled as being biodegradable, which is to be expected given what they are made of.
The Simple Skincare website also says that the wipes will break down in compost within 42 days. While this also sounds likely to be true, a reference to back up this claim would be a good move. It would also be good for the relevance of this claim to be better explained. Cleansing wipes are typically disposed to landfill (or in some places, the sewer), not a compost bin. Accordingly, this claim could be taken as misleading, because composting requires specific conditions that do not exist in a landfill.
The outer packaging of the wipes is a soft plastic that is often not accepted in kerbside recycling schemes. It can be recycled through some programs (for example, Redcycle) but, in practice, this type of packaging is likely to be disposed to landfill. Plastic will take hundreds of years to degrade in landfill, and once it does it will form microplastic particles. The full impacts of microplastics is not known at this point in time, but it is known that they can move into waterways where they are consumed by aquatic life.
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.
Because this is a new product, there are not very many reviews available. Those posted on BeautyHeaven say that while the wipes are handy on the go, they need to be followed with a cleanser for a proper clean.
Image credit: Little Mix