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Design4Circularity collaboration achieves circular cosmetics packaging

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Design4Circularity collaboration achieves circular cosmetics packaging

Clariant, Siegwerk, Borealis and Beiersdorf have partnered to tackle the challenge of creating recyclable consumer packaging based on 100-percent-recycled-plastic packaging for cosmetics applications. The initiative, named “Design4Circularity,” is providing innovations and insights for the different design aspects to encourage others to follow design for circularity principles. - RecyclingToday

This collaboration was possible because all participants are dedicated to circular economy, with companywide programs and holistic understanding of the systems involved. Achieving circularity needs a complete shift in designing product packaging and packaging raw materials, considering sortability, recycling and packaging end-of-life.

Richard Haldimann, chief technology and sustainability officer, Clariant

The cross-industry collaboration is targeting the achievement of circular packaging by incorporating full life cycle thinking in each development step. Circular packaging reduces plastic waste, uses less new/virgin plastic and reduces climate impact.

Our initiative is a frontrunner in uniquely assessing circularity in every design parameter, from additives to bottle material to inks, mapping industry competencies, potential gaps and feasibility proof points to open up viable, ultimately circular solutions.

Stefan Haep, technology head brand owner collaboration at Siegwerk

The mission was to design a packaging solution that creates a cleaner input stream and finds its way back into the loop in high-value applications. It also should allow for the high-quality visuals and distinctive shapes consumers associate with cosmetics packaging and brands, the partners say.

We follow an ambitious sustainability agenda, including the vision of fully circular resources. The Design4Circularity packaging solution is ground-breaking for future cosmetics applications. Through the hard work and innovation power of all collaboration partners involved, we have managed to combine the high design requirements of a cosmetic packaging with full circularity. We are very proud of this success and hope that this motivates our industry peers to follow.

Stefan Rüster, packaging expert from Beiersdorf

To deliver on all these factors, the innovation centers on a colorless polyolefin bottle made with 100-percent-postconsumer recyclate (PCR) that is full-body sleeved in a printed deinkable shrink sleeve. All materials are technically fully recyclable with the potential to be recovered and reused for the same high-value application.

Transforming to a circular economy is a team effort. Only together with like-minded partners can we shape an ever-mindful tomorrow. It starts with packaging design in combination with the right sorting and recycling infrastructure, and through collaboration we reinvent essentials for sustainable living.

Peter Voortmans, global commercial director consumer product, Borealis

Critical design parameters included polymer and additive composition, material selection of sleeve and bottle, sortability and deinking of sleeve material, recyclability and PCR quality.

To give postuse packaging a second life, the packaging material must retain its highest value through multiple life cycles. Here, Vienna-based Borealis brought its expertise in advanced, mechanical recycling technology by offering high-quality PCR based on proprietary Borcycle M mechanical recycling technology. Additionally, Muttenz, Switzerland-based Clariant brought expertise in design-for-recycling additive solutions to protect PCR quality and protect against polymer chain breakdown at each recycling step. This delivered a suitable, high-value PCR to repeatedly hit the high-end criteria of personal care-related consumer packaging. The circular solution additionally focuses on a colorless bottle option to increase PCR quality after recycling.

To differentiate the packaging despite using an uncolored bottle, the collaboration used a full-body shrink sleeve to allow for unique designs of individual brands. Cologne, Germany-based ink manufacturer Siegwerk provided ink systems that, in collaboration with Hamburg, Germany-based Beiersdorf and a sleeve manufacturer, realized a full-body, colored and appealing cosmetic sleeve. Additionally, the chosen new ink composition was designed to allow deinking of the sleeve within a recycling process, increasing the circularity of the packaging. The bottle/shrink sleeve combination is intended for removal at a material recovery facility.

Sorting trials using existing recycling infrastructure proved the sortability of the full-body sleeved high-density polyethylene, or HDPE, bottle, achieving high recovery. Additionally, the project team conducted trials with full-body sleeved, transparent polyethylene terephthalate, or, PET bottles and achieved similar results.Further advancements in sorting technology are needed to achieve the ultimate goal of the circular economy to give colorless bottles a second life back in colorless applications retaining their highest value, Clariant says. Technologies such as digital watermarking or artificial intelligence could help such sustainability goals to be reached, the partners add.

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