High-quality cosmetics packaging made of old plastic, © Werner & Mertz

In the cosmetics market, both manufacturers and recycling companies were previously uncertain about the use of so-called post-consumer recycled (PCR) materials in cosmetics packaging. While the relevant Regulation on Cosmetic Products does specify that manufacturers can only put safe products into circulation, it does not define the conditions under which recycled materials may be used. Now, however, an important step has been taken towards the circular economy. Werner & Mertz (Frosch, Erdal), the company that helped start “Recyclat-Initative”, and cosmetics corporation Beiersdorf (Nivea, Eucerin) have entered into a partnership. In concert with the Fraunhofer Institute for Process Engineering and Packaging (IVV), they have developed principles for the use in cosmetics packaging of old plastics that have been obtained from the “Grüner Punkt” dual disposal system and mechanically recycled. This first-ever standard to help recycling companies and manufacturers was defined based on an inventory of the recycled materials present in the European market and a comparison with the requirements for cosmetics packaging. The study’s findings assert that it is helpful for the cosmetics industry to design plastic packaging in such a way that it is composed of high-grade material that can be returned to the circular materials flow. The study also argues that compatibility with the circular economy must be considered when designing packaging. This can include, for instance, the use of homogeneous materials instead of compound ones, sustainable inks, detachable labels and easily separated packaging components for the recycling process. The findings from the analysis will be published by Fraunhofer Institute IVV in autumn. Immo Sander, head of packaging development at Werner & Mertz, says, “With our joint work, we have demonstrated that mechanical recycling represents a feasible option for secondary raw materials of high quality. Our findings are pioneering and intended to provide more certainty for all stakeholders. Demand will be generated if many companies follow our example, which in turn will accelerate investment in processing facilities and make it economically viable to use old plastics repeatedly. That will produce benefits not only for businesses, but also – and most importantly – for our environment. We have found a strong partner in the form of Beiersdorf, who shares our vision of industry-wide use of recycled materials.”

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