Recycling management pioneer and cosmetics group cooperate

Beiersdorf and Werner & Mertz developed a standard concept for cosmetic packaging made of old plastic with the support of Fraunhofer IVV

It is a big step for the recycling economy and the cosmetics industry: the founding company of the German “recycling forum” Werner & Mertz and the global skin care company Beiersdorf have entered cooperation. Together with the Fraunhofer Institute for Process Engineering and Packaging (IVV), they have developed a standard for the use of mechanically recycled waste plastic, which is obtained from the German “Grüner Punkt” waste collection system, for cosmetics packaging. It is a first guidance and important orientation for the industry.

Challenges with recycled material use in cosmetics packaging

So far, there is a high uncertainty in the cosmetics market, both among manufacturers and recycling companies, about the use of so-called post-consumer recyclates (PCR) in cosmetics packaging. Generally, the Regulation (EC) No. 1223/2009 on cosmetic products stipulates that manufacturers should of course only put safe products into circulation. It does not define under which conditions recycled material may be used – hence, the uncertainty as to whether and in what form recycled material does meet the safety criteria.

Clear recommendations for the use of recycled material

In order to provide to the industry some guidance and increase clarity on the usage of recycled plastic in cosmetics packaging, Werner & Mertz and Beiersdorf, in cooperation with Dr. Frank Welle from the Fraunhofer Institute for Process Engineering and Packaging, have drawn up an inventory of existing recyclates on the European market. This provides an initial transparency of the existing recycling processes, of the available qualities and of the material properties. By comparing these data with the requirements for cosmetic packaging, it was possible for the first time to define a standard that answers the most important questions to help recycling companies and manufacturers. Recyclers learn how the quality situation is evaluated from the cosmetics industry’s point of view and receive information on how high-quality processing of used plastic can be successful and what quality is required to meet the industry’s requirements.

According to the findings of the study, the manufacturers of cosmetic products should aim to design plastic packaging in a way that it consists of high-quality material that can be recycled. The idea of recyclability should be taken into account also in the design of the packaging: for example, by using mono-materials instead of mixed materials, sustainable printing inks, removable labels as well as easy to detach packaging components to allow separation during the recycling process. The results of the analysis will be published by the Fraunhofer Institute for Process Engineering and Packaging at the beginning of autumn 2020.

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