A white paper by the Confindustria Association representing the national cosmetics industry and the leader in recycled plastics collects practical pointers to guide the industry towards fully recyclable and, perhaps, already recycled plastic packaging.
Guidelines for increasingly circular cosmetics presented at Milan Beauty Week
A packaging that is aesthetically refined, but also recyclable. Capable of enhancing the functionality of the product, and at the same time, useful for zero waste. If for a long time cosmetics packaging struggled to hold together commercial and environmental reasons, today the principles of circular economy guide much of the innovation in the beauty sector. This is the background to the partnership between Cosmetica Italia – the national association of cosmetics companies – and Aliplast, the European leader in recycled plastic, a company of the Hera Group. On the occasion of the second edition of Milano Beauty Week (26 September – 2 October 2023), the two entities presented the white paper ‘Plastic Packaging in the Cosmetics Sector’, a practical guide to help companies in the sector design fully recyclable plastic packaging, in line with the most recent regulatory guidelines of the European Union and with the sensitivity of a market that is increasingly attentive to the protection of the environment and its resources.
Andriolo, CEO Aliplast: ‘white paper opportunity for the entire supply chain’
“The white paper produced together with Cosmetica Italia,” explains Carlo Andriolo, CEO of Aliplast, “is an opportunity for the entire beauty supply chain, which is undergoing a strong evolution towards products that are increasingly circular and resource-conscious. This is not, however, the first time that Aliplast has made its know-how available to this strategic market of Italian-made products. In fact, we have been working for some time with various companies in the sector to develop innovative packaging solutions in recycled plastic, also thanks to the Aliplast Lab, where we co-design with our customers products that are equal to virgin in terms of aesthetics and technical characteristics”.
Lavino, President of Cosmetica Italia ‘Supply chain approach for a sustainable development of the sector’
“Sustainability is both a priority and a responsibility for our industry,” comments Benedetto Lavino, President of Cosmetica Italia. “It is in fact an issue closely related to innovation (in which the cosmetics industry invests 6% of its turnover each year) and industry development. Attention to the environment is an aspect on which we are called upon to act both as individuals and in response to an increasingly deep-rooted consumer awareness. There are numerous initiatives undertaken by companies, but the Association’s role in fostering a culture and knowledge of sustainable development issues among its member companies is also of fundamental importance. In particular, the white paper produced with Aliplast allows us to think with a supply chain approach that is decisive and strategic in addressing the different facets and challenges of sustainability’.
White paper: practical guidelines for the eco-design of plastic packaging
The document, consistent with the guidelines of Recyclass and SPICE (Sustainable, Packaging Initiative for CosmEtics), European initiatives of plastic recyclers and the cosmetics industry, provides very important operational indications to guide eco-design choices of polymeric containers for cosmetics. It will be communicated through the websites of Cosmetica Italia and Aliplast, the social channels of the two partners and special initiatives with the industry media.
Detailed tips to make every plastic fully recyclable
First, the paper briefly clarifies the steps in the processes of collecting, sorting and recycling plastics. It then goes into detail about containers made from the different types of polymer: HDPE/PP, PET, PE/PP. For each one, guidance is given on how to design each packaging component: main body, closure system, container colour, barrier layers, labelling, use of decoration inks.
Some examples: avoid multi-layers and pay attention to colours
The range of indications is very broad. Some apply to all materials. For example, it is always advisable to design the main body in a single material, avoiding a multilayer structure composed of several polymers, which make recyclability more difficult. Others are specific. As far as HDPE or PP are concerned, all colours are accepted, except for pigments that cannot be detected by plastic sorters’ readers, such as carbon black. In any case, it is always preferable to use light colours for the container because they are easier to use once transformed into recycled plastic. The use of polyolefin-based materials is then recommended for PET container closure systems to ensure their separability from the PET container. In addition, the use of metal components (such as springs or balls in pumps or sprayers) should be avoided as they cause wear and tear on the machines and in some cases can stop recycling operations. But these are just some of the detailed guidelines in the paper.
Pack sizes: if too small, better dedicated collections
A section of the white paper is devoted to two important focuses. One concerns the sizing of containers. Today, in fact, small items (especially those concerning make-up), even if fully compliant with design-for-recycling rules, are for the most part excluded from the classic recycling route, because they are too small to be intercepted by the ballistic sieves and separators of sorting plants. For these, therefore, dedicated collections at the shops or leaving the cap attached to the packaging could be envisaged.
Focus on the use of recycled plastic: environmental impact reduced by two thirds
Another focus is on the use of recycled plastics for packaging, which can have significant environmental benefits in terms of resource savings and decarbonisation.
The document, for example, cites a Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) study by Aliplast that attests how a PET granule from virgin material emits about three times as much CO2 emissions as the same granule from recycled PET (3.04 kg versus 1.25 kg CO2 equivalent).
This is an environmental benefit that, if communicated transparently to the consumer, can add real value to the product.
The Hera Group is one of Italy’s largest multi-utility companies and operates in the environment, energy and water sectors, with more than 9,000 employees, working every day to meet the multiple needs of around 5 million citizens located mainly in Emilia-Romagna, Veneto, Friuli-Venezia Giulia, Marche, Tuscany and Abruzzo. Listed since 2003, it is among the top 40 Italian companies in terms of capitalisation (it is part of the Ftse Mib index) and since 2020 has entered the Dow Jones Sustainability Index, World and Europe. Aliplast is a leader in plastics recycling for the production of regenerated polymers, rLDPE flexible films and rPET sheets. Founded in 1982, based in Ospedaletto di Istrana (Treviso), as a service company for the collection of plastic waste, it has gradually expanded its offerings to become first an Italian company and then an international group.
Cosmetica Italia is the national association of cosmetics companies. Founded in 1967, today it brings together more than 640 companies, ranging from SMEs to multinationals, representing 90% of the sector’s turnover, which exceeded 13 billion euros in 2022.
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Per maggiori informazioni: www.cosmeticaitalia.it