Clariant, Siegwerr, Borealis and Bieersdorf Collaborate to Improve Circularity of Cosmetics Packaging Materials – Chemical Engineering


In a new collaboration for the personal care industry, Clariant AG (Muttenz, Switzerland), Siegwerk (Siegburg, Germany), Borealis Group (Vienna, Austria), and Beiersdorf AG (Hamburg, Germany) are pooling their expertise to meet the challenge of creating recyclable consumer packaging, based on 100% recovered plastic packaging waste, for cosmetic applications. The pioneering initiative, named “Design4Circularity”, provides innovations and ideas for different aspects of design to encourage others to also follow design principles for circularity.

The cross-industry collaboration aims to achieve truly circular packaging by integrating full lifecycle thinking into every development stage, to create a new standard for the industry. Circular packaging promotes reduced plastic waste, reduced use of new/virgin plastic materials and reduced climate impact, which are critical challenges facing our planet.

Richard Haldimann, Director of Technology and Sustainability at Clariant, said: “This collaboration was possible because all participants are dedicated to the circular economy, with company-wide programs and a holistic understanding systems involved. Achieving circularity requires a complete change in the design of product packaging and packaging raw materials, taking into account sortability, recycling and the end of life of packaging.

Unique “Design4Circularity” value chain collaboration achieves first circular cosmetic packaging concept (Source: Clariant)

Stefan Haep, Technology Head Brand Owner Collaboration at Siegwerk, adds: “Our initiative is a forerunner in uniquely assessing circularity in every design parameter, from additives to bottle material to inks, by mapping skills of the industry, potential gaps and proof of concept points to open. viable, ultimately circular solutions.

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

To accommodate all of these factors, the innovation centers around a colorless polyolefin bottle containing 100% PCR, fully wrapped in a printed de-inkable shrink sleeve. All materials are technically fully recyclable with the potential to be recovered and used for the same high value application.

Stefan Rüster, packaging expert from Beiersdorf, continues: “We follow an ambitious sustainability program including the vision of fully circular resources. The Design4Circularity packaging solution is revolutionary for future cosmetic applications. Thanks to the hard work and innovative power of all the collaboration partners involved, we have succeeded in combining the high design requirements of a cosmetic packaging with full circularity. We are very proud of this achievement and hope it will motivate our industry peers to follow.

And Peter Voortmans, Global Commercial Director Consumer Product, Borealis, concludes: “The transformation towards a circular economy is a team effort. Only with like-minded partners can we shape an “always conscious” future. It starts with packaging design in combination with the right sorting and recycling infrastructure, and through collaboration we reinvent the essentials for sustainable living.

Critical design parameters included composition of polymers and additives, selection of sleeve and bottle materials, sortability and deinking of sleeve material, recyclability and PCR quality.

To give a second life to packaging waste, the packaging material must maintain its highest value throughout several life cycles. Here, Borealis brought its expertise in advanced and transformational mechanical recycling technology by offering high quality PCR based on proprietary Borcycle technology. M Technology. In addition, Clariant provided expertise in the design of recycling additive solutions to provide targeted additivation to protect PCR quality and protect against polymer chain breakage at each recycling step. This has provided a suitable and high-value PCR material to repeatedly achieve the high-end criteria of consumer packaging related to personal care. The circular solution further focuses on a colorless bottle option to increase the quality of PCR after recycling.

To achieve packaging differentiation despite using an uncoloured bottle, the collaboration opted for an integral shrink sleeve as the ideal way to enable the unique design of individual brands. Leading ink manufacturer Siegwerk was able to supply ink systems which, together with Beiersdorf and a sleeve manufacturer, enabled sleeve printing to achieve a complete, colorful and attractive cosmetic sleeve. In addition, the new ink composition chosen was designed to allow the de-inking of the sleeve as part of a recycling process, thus increasing the circularity of the packaging. The cylinder/shrink sleeve combination is intended for removal at a material recovery facility.

The first sorting trials in the existing recycling infrastructure proved the sorting capability of the full-sleeve HDPE bottle, achieving high recovery of the bottle material. Additionally, the project team conducted trials with transparent full-sleeve PET bottles and found similar results.

New advances in sorting technology are needed to achieve the ultimate goal of the circular economy to give clear bottles a second life in colorless applications while retaining their highest value. Technologies such as watermarking or artificial intelligence could help achieve these sustainability goals.


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