Beiersdorf, the multinational company behind major brands such as NIVEA and Eucerin, has joined forces with German recycling firm Werner & Mertz.
Together with the Fraunhofer Institute for Process Engineering and Packaging (IVV), Werner & Mertz 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.
In a statement on the partnership, Beiersdorf said there is a “high uncertainty” in the cosmetics market among both manufacturers and recycling companies about the use of post-consumer recyclates (PCR) in cosmetics packaging. Generally, the Regulation (EC) No. 1223/2009 on consumer products stipulates that manufacturers should only put safe products into circulation, but it does not define under which conditions recycled material may be used. Hence, said Beiersdorf, the uncertainty as to whether and in what form the PCR material meets the safety criteria.
Werner & Mertz has been driving the development of HDPE treatment processes in a long-term project with partners and demonstrated the safe use of recycled HDPE is possible for ‘rinse-off products’ – those used for body cleansing. As a market leader in skincare, Beiersdorf recently set ambitious targets for the recyclability of its packaging. The first products with bottles made from recycled plastic have already been launched to market.
Michael Becker, head of global packaging development at Beiersdorf, said: “In our efforts to further increase the proportion of recycled material in our plastic packaging, we as a manufacturer face the challenge that suppliers are insufficiently prepared for our material requirements.
“It quickly became clear that we had to provide support in the development of high-quality recyclates, especially in defining quality requirements.
“Werner & Mertz had already done excellent preparatory work in this area. Together, we developed the idea further and set the basis for a cosmetics standard.”
According to the findings of a study conducted by Werner & Mertz and Dr Frank Welle of the Fraunhofer Institute for Process Engineering and Packaging, cosmetic products manufacturers should aim to design plastic packaging in a way that it consists of high-quality material that can be recycled. The concept of recyclability should be taken into account in the design of the packaging, for example by using mono-materials instead of mixed materials; sustainable printing inks; removable labels, and the ability to detach components to allow for separation during the recycling process.
Immo Sander, head of packaging development at Werner & Mertz, commented: “With our joint work, we have proven that mechanical recycling is a viable route for high-quality secondary plastic materials.
“Our findings are forward-looking and intended to give all players more security. If many companies follow our example, demand will be increased, which will accelerate investments in processing plants and make the repeated use of plastic waste more economical. This then benefits not only the companies but protects our environment.
“In Beiersdorf, we have found a strong cooperation partner who shares our vision of an industry-wide use of recycled material.”