Mintel’s ‘Sub-Zero Waste’ trend rings true in Asia’s beauty sector

July 9, 2019
4 min read

South Korean beauty conglomerate Amorepacific recently announced its commitment to recycling 100% of its empty bottles by 2025. In the shorter term, the company aims to recycle at least 100 tonnes of empty plastic bottles in the next three years.

This strategy aligns with Mintel’s 2019 Global Beauty and Personal Care Trend ‘Sub-Zero Waste’ which discusses how beauty manufacturers, companies and brands must shift to a whole new paradigm when approaching a zero waste mentality, focussing on every aspect of the supply chain.

While the trend is currently in various stages of emerging and mainstreaming across different parts of Asia, beauty and personal care companies in the region are acknowledging the benefits that come with supporting the reduction of waste. Furthermore, consumers have started to express interest in the movement and curiosity is growing.

Reducing waste in China

In China, almost half of Mintropolitans (consumers who live in tier one cities, pursue quality of life rather than just wealth, are well educated and are the potential trendsetters) consider making efforts to reduce waste to be an important factor when evaluating an ethical brand.

The city of Shanghai is taking the lead with a new initiative to separate garbage. The Shanghai Household Garbage Management Regulation will come into full effect this July and is set to boost consumer awareness on waste reduction. The time is now for players in the beauty and personal care industry to rapidly make the move towards sustainability, or risk losing public support.

Packaging is a key focus area when it comes to product waste. There is currently hardly any refillable packaging for beauty and personal care products in China. According to Mintel Global New Products Database (GNPD), the amount of refillable launches in China is low in comparison to other key markets, like Japan for instance. Therefore, there is an opportunity for beauty and personal care brands in China to look further into refillable packaging innovation.

Kao Bioré Moisture Rich Makeup Remover Wipes from Japan are sold in a 35ml pack with 10 sheets, a 157ml pack with 44 sheets, and an eco-friendly 157ml refill pack also with 44 sheets.

Dove Men+Care Skin Series Oil Refresh Lotion from Japan is manufactured with 100% natural energy and retails in a pack bearing the Green Power logo. The product highlights ‘decreases plastic usage’ on-pack.

In fact, Japan is trailblazing in refillable pack innovation. Kao Corporation has been pioneering a number of clever refillable packaging initiatives. According to the group’s website, it offered 289 refillable products in December 2017. In addition to its quantity advantage, Kao has also created modified refill products in accordance with bottle sizes and the viscosity of contents, to help simplify the refill process.

Reducing waste with sheet masks

Sheet masks have a high penetration across Asia. However, they pose huge environmental problems with their individual plastic packaging and concerns surrounding after-use disposal of the mask cloth. As consumers become increasingly aware of the sheer amount of waste produced by the beauty and personal care industry, it is a crucial time for sheet mask manufacturers to revisit the ingredients and packaging materials they use for these products.

Facial skincare brands should be transparent about the materials and ingredients used in the production of sheet masks—from the outer package to the inner mask cloth—and provide detailed instructions on how to properly dispose of the waste. It would also be astute to gradually introduce more biodegradable materials into these products.


Chando Himalaya Mask Wang Zai Himalaya Lily Hydration Mask from China is a biodegradable and breathable sheet mask that’s skin-friendly and silky smooth to perfectly adhere to the skin.


Love Beauty and Planet Muru Muru Butter & Rose Blooming Radiance Sheet Mask from the UK is an easy-to-use, biodegradable, vegan sheet mask that contains natural and ethically sourced oils and extracts.

Laurie Du
Laurie Du

Laurie is Mintel’s Senior Beauty Analyst based in Shanghai. She provides insights on the Chinese beauty market, consumer behavioural trends and new product development.

More from Mintel
  • Mintel Store
    Mintel Store
    Get smart fast with our exclusive market research reports, delivering the latest data, innovation, trends and strategic recommendations....
    View reports
  • Mintel Leap
    Mintel Leap is a revolutionary new AI-powered platform that will transform your research process....
    Book a demo
Subscribe to Mintel Spotlight
Related articles

Download the Latest Market Intelligence