From The Editor's Desk

Why we are going to hear a lot more about biotech plastics

By Simon Pitman

- Last updated on GMT

Why we are going to hear a lot more about biotech plastics
This was highlighted recently when L’Oréal confirmed that it was stepping up its investment in biotechnology recycled packaging provider Carbios.

Cosmetics Design brought you this news in an article by Deanna Utroske​ that highlighted how the increased investment in Carbios could ultimately serve to help bring the companies PET recycling technologies to industrial scale.

L’Oréal has a long-standing commitment to sustainable practices and as the biggest beauty personal care player in the world this path is continuing to have a significant impact on the global industry as a whole.

Sustainable packaging is a core focus

Back in 2018, the company reaffirmed its commitment to sustainable packaging as one of the pillars of its sustainability strategy by doubling down on its pledge to further improve on this area of it manufacturing.

This is part of a major trend within the global cosmetics and personal care industry, with green and recycled packaging proving to be by far the biggest trend within the segment.

But finding workable, practical, aesthetically-pleasing and cost effective solutions to green packaging have proved to be illusive, which is why much more focus and investment is still necessary to find suitable packaging materials that meet all of these requirements.

L’Oréal aims at next level sustainable packaging

L’Oréal has introduced recycled shampoo bottles for its Redken, Kiehl’s and Pureology lines which has served to increase the volume of its recycled packaging significantly, while it has also been working with sustainability consultancy Quantis on a program to improve the environmental performance of the whole packaging supply chain.

In tandem with this, L’Oréal has been working with Carbios since 2017 on a project focused on the recycling of bio-plastics, otherwise known as bioplasturgy.

So what is bioplastics all about?

The technology Carbios is offering relies on bioplasturgy to as a biological mechanism to produce plastics for packaging using a de-polymarization process.

In very simple terms, this means that the resulting plastics can be biorecyled using the enzymes found in microbes to digest the plastics to generate new and environmentally harmless materials, known as monomers.

After purification, this material can then be re-polymerized, enabling what developers at Carbios refer to as an infinity of recycling using the process.

Why bioplastics could be the right solution

Until now the costs associated with bioplastic processes have made it prohibitive for most brands to be able to pass on to their customers, but as the technology behind the process continues to develop, costs are will continue to come down.

Costs aside, there are also considerable environmental advantages which would also prove to be valuable marketing tools for brands.

Besides infinite recyclability, hese include a potentially lower carbon footprint, lower energy costs in manufacturing, the fact that the process does not use crude oil, as well as a reduction in litter and improved compostability – the latter being a great advantage to many of us who are alarmed by how much plastic pollution is impacting the environment.

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