The two companies had been working together under a consortium, established back in 2017, to promote the development and commercial upscale of Carbios’ patented enzymatic recycling technology. Nestlé Waters, PepsiCo and Suntory Beverage & Food Europe were now also members.
And in 2019, L’Oréal advanced its partnership with Carbios further, using the venture capital fund Business Opportunities for L’Oréal Development (BOLD) to buy a minority stake in Carbios.
‘This is a promising innovation for the years to come’
Today, L’Oréal and Carbios unveiled the development of a pilot-phase cosmetic bottle made using the technology. A commercial scale rollout was pegged for 2025 under L’Oréal’s prestige skin care brand Biotherm.
“We have been working with Carbios since 2017 to develop this first bottle made from PET derived from enzymatic recycling technology, an alternative to mechanical recycling,” said Jacques Playe, packaging and development director at L’Oréal.
The technology used an enzyme able to depolymerize and infinitely recycle PET plastic of any kind, including clear, opaque, complex and even coloured.
“…This is a promising innovation for the years to come that demonstrates our commitment to bring to market more environmentally friendly packaging and which is part of a circularity initiative begun more than 15 years ago,” Playe said.
Giulio Bergamaschi, global brand president of Biotherm, said: “Biotherm is a pioneer in eco-responsible cosmetics and has put sustainable packaging and waste reduction at the centre of its strategy. We are delighted to be the first beauty brand to realise a completely recycled bottle using plastic from Carbios’ disruptive technology.”
Carbios had also developed bottles using the technology for the other consortium members Nestlé, PepsiCo and Suntory. "Each Consortium company has successfully manufactured sample bottles – based on Carbios’ enzymatic PET recycling technology – for some of their leading products including: Biotherm, Perrier, Pepsi Max and Orangina," Carbios said in a statement.
Jean Claude Lumaret, CEO of Carbios, said: “In a world first, we have created food-grade clear bottles from enzymatically recycled coloured and complex plastic with identical properties to virgin PET, and in partnership with the consortium, we have proved the viability of the technology with the world’s leading brands. This is a truly transformational innovation that could finally fully close the loop on PET plastic supply globally, so that it never becomes waste.”
L’Oréal edging towards zero virgin plastics by 2030
Back in October 2020, L’Oréal also announced the development of a cosmetics bottle made from captured carbon – an innovation co-developed with carbon recycling major LanzaTech and energy giant Total and set to launch in 2024.
L’Oréal’s goal by 2025 was for 100% of its plastic packaging to be either refillable, reusable, recyclable or compostable and by 2030 all plastic materials to be either derived from recycled materials or bio-sourced – ending use entirely of virgin plastics of fossil origin.