Beiersdorf to publish ‘industry standard’ on cosmetic grade recycled plastics by end of 2020

By Kacey Culliney contact

- Last updated on GMT

The industry standard aims to overturn 'uncertainty' created by current regulatory guidelines in the EU Cosmetics Regulation for industry and recyclers, alike (Getty Images)
The industry standard aims to overturn 'uncertainty' created by current regulatory guidelines in the EU Cosmetics Regulation for industry and recyclers, alike (Getty Images)

Related tags: Beiersdorf, Plastic packaging, Sustainable packaging, recycled packaging, circular beauty, circular economy, safety


Personal care major Beiersdorf is primed to publish its industry standard defining cosmetic grade recycled plastic suitability by the end of this year; a standard it co-developed with two specialist German companies.

The skin care major teamed up with manufacturing major Werner & Mertz and R&D institute The Fraunhofer Institute for Process Engineering and Packaging (IVV) in July this year to co-develop the standard for cosmetic packaging made from old plastic. Beiersdorf said the standard had been developed to be used as a guidance for both recyclers and cosmetic manufacturers.

Overcoming ‘uncertainty’ – recycled plastics standard plus EU Cosmetics Regulation

Beiersdorf and its collaborators had created the industry standard by creating an inventory of existing recyclates on the European market – existing recycling processes, available qualities and material properties – and comparing this with cosmetic packaging requirements under the EU Cosmetics Regulation (EC) No. 1223/2009​. The company noted that the EU Regulation did not currently define conditions in which recycled material could be used for cosmetics packaging, which created “uncertainty as to whether and in what form recycled material does meet the safety criteria”.

In developing “a first industry-standard for cosmetic grade recycled plastic”, ​Beiersdorf said it hoped to overturn these uncertainties.

“[The standard] aims to increase the quality of recycled plastic content made available by recycling companies and push the use of mechanical post-consumer plastic across all industry players,”​ it said.

Jean-Francoise Pascal, vice president of corporate sustainability at Beiersdorf, said “broader collaboration”​ had been, and would continue to be, hugely important in such actions.

Beiersdorf said the final standard would be published by the Fraunhofer Institute for Process Engineering and Packaging “within this year”.

In April this year, the UK Cosmetic, Toiletry and Perfumery Association (CTPA) shared its guidance document on use of recycled materials in plastic packaging​ which also aimed to debunk regulatory and technical hurdles.

Circular beauty – 90% recycled PET bottles in Europe by end of 2020

Beiersdorf said it was well on its way to achieving its own goal of ensuring 90% of the company’s polyethylene terephythalate (PET) bottles in Europe were made using recycled content by the end of 2020. This measure, it said, would save more than 1,200 tons of fossil-based virgin plastic per year. In Germany, the company had also switched most of its high-density polyethylene (HDPE) bottles to recycled material; other European countries would follow.

“The overall vision is to achieve a circular economy,”​ the company said.

“One important element in this approach is the use of post-consumer recycled plastic (PCR), materials that originate from the recycling of household waste – such as materials found in the ‘yellow bag’ in Germany. Via the use of such secondary raw materials in product packaging, natural resources are protected, and the use of fossil-based virgin plastic is avoided, hence CO2 emissions are reduced.”

Beiersdorf also recently announced a 50% reduction of plastic in its flagship Nivea bottle, achieved through a complete redesign, “very similar to a toothpaste tube”.

Related topics: Packaging & Design

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