Concentrated Power for Use of Recycled Material in Cosmetic Packaging

With the support of the Fraunhofer Institute for Process Engineering and Packaging (IVV), Beiersdorf and Werner & Mertz have been working on a standard concept for cosmetic packaging made of recycled plastic. In this way, they want to offer the industry an orientation aid.

The names have a big sound. And so many people hope that the new alliance will be another big step for the recycling industry: Werner & Mertz and the cosmetics group Beiersdorf have entered into a cooperation. Together with the Fraunhofer Institute for Process Engineering and Packaging (IVV), they have developed a foundation for the use of mechanically recycled old plastic, which is obtained from the „Grüner Punkt“ dual system.

The problem: Up to now there has been great uncertainty in the cosmetics market, both among manufacturers and recycling companies, about the use of so-called post-consumer recyclates (PCR) in cosmetics packaging. According to Regulation (EC) No. 1223/2009 on cosmetic products, manufacturers must only put safe products into circulation. However, it does not define under which conditions recycled material may be used.

Safe use of recyclate is possible

Werner & Mertz had already driven forward the development of HDPE treatment processes in a long-term project with partners and demonstrated that the safe use of recycled HDPE is possible in products used for body cleansing. „In our efforts to further increase the proportion of recycled material in our plastic packaging, we as manufacturers are faced with the challenge that suppliers are inadequately prepared for our material requirements,“ explains Michael Becker, Head of Global Packaging Development at Beiersdorf. „It quickly became clear that we need to provide support in the development of high-quality recyclates, especially in defining quality requirements.“ He added that Werner & Mertz had done excellent preparatory work. Together they developed the idea further and laid the foundations for a cosmetics standard.

Recommendations for the use of recycled materials

In order to give the industry more certainty and clarity regarding the use of used 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 a significant transparency of the existing recycling processes, the available recyclate qualities and the material properties.

By comparing the data with the requirements for cosmetic packaging, it was possible for the first time to define a standard that provides answers to the most important questions that help recycling companies and manufacturers. The results of the analysis are to be published by the Fraunhofer Institute for Process Engineering and Packaging at the beginning of autumn 2020.