First Deposit System for Plastic Packaging

The Kneipp brand has set itself further goals regarding the sustainability of its packaging. In order to advance the recycling processes of personal care packaging, the company is cooperating with the start-up Circleback. Together with other partners, it is working on setting up a deposit system modeled on the beverage industry.

For the Würzburg-based company Kneipp, the cooperation with the Berlin-based start-up Circleback represents a forward-looking building block for optimizing its own packaging cycles. “Getting enough recycled material for our packaging is becoming increasingly challenging,” explains Philipp Keil, Head of Packaging Materials Management at Kneipp. “Currently, too little high-quality recyclate is obtained from the existing closed-loop system via the yellow bag to produce packaging for the personal care industry from it on a comprehensive basis. That’s why, as a cooperation partner from the very beginning, we actively support Circleback’s approach of setting up our own deposit system for bath and care products. The idea of transferring structures already learned from the beverage industry to personal care products is great and could have a signal effect on our entire industry,” Keil continues.

Plastic: a valuable raw material

With its innovative deposit system for shower gel, bath additive, or lotion packaging, Circleback is working with Kneipp and other partners from the cosmetics industry to bring cosmetics packaging into a closed cycle. “Plastic packaging is a valuable raw material, only a fraction of which has been used to date,” explains Brett Dickey, founder of Circleback. So far, only small amounts of the plastics from the yellow bag are recycled into equivalent packaging. The bags contain too much contaminated plastic, requiring large amounts of plastic to be incinerated. “With our deposit system, we want to give all consumers the opportunity to support a real circular economy with their actions.”

The pilot project will initially be launched still in this half of the year at Edeka Moch in the Alexa shopping mall in Berlin. Customers can hand in empty cosmetics and personal care packaging at Circleback deposit machines. They will receive up to 20 cents per package via the Circleback app. Kneipp, as well as participating partner brands in turn receive the recyclate back from their packaging. The system is based on the state deposit system for beverage bottles, which ensures a recycling rate of more than 90 percent. The aim is to establish a nationwide deposit system for plastic packaging in the cosmetics sector.

As one of the leading companies in the bath and body care products sector, Kneipp has set itself the goal of making all packaging completely recyclable by 2023. Today, 75 percent of all Kneipp packaging is already recyclable.

In addition, Kneipp is focusing on innovative, bio-based packaging materials. “For example, we already use cork and Paper Blend as packaging materials for our lip care range. By 2025, we want to completely replace plastic with more sustainable packaging solutions. Here, too, a dedicated deposit system for personal care packaging offers great potential for integrating new, as yet unknown materials into a recycling system,” Keil emphasizes.

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