Consumer goods giant Procter and Gamble (P&G) has announced that it will produce a limited-edition series of recyclable Head and Shoulders shampoo bottles that use plastic waste from beach litter.
The initiative, which according to P&G is the world’s first municipally recyclable shampoo bottle made using up to 25% recycled beach plastic—previous containers made with beach plastic were not recyclable after use—was announced on January 19 at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.
It is the latest in a series of high-profile moves by global manufacturers to use plastic in a more sustainable way, such as Unilever’s recent promise that all its plastic packaging will be recyclable, reusable or compostable by 2025; and sportswear giant Adidas’s 2016 line of sneakers made from ocean waste.
P&G has partnered with United States-based recycling company TerraCycle and French waste and water treatment services firm Suez to develop the bottles.
The first 150,000 bottles will be available to consumers in Carrefour supermarkets, France, this summer, making it the world’s largest production run of recyclable shampoo bottles made with beach plastic.
TerraCycle, which is already working with non-profit groups and organisations that carry out beach cleanups, will pay for the beach trash to be delivered to a TerraCycle facility. There, the waste will be sorted to remove non-plastic materials. The remaining plastic is sent on to Suez facilities for processing.
A recent report released by the World Economic Forum and the Ellen MacArthur Foundation in the U.K. found that most plastic packaging is used only once; 95% of the value of plastic packaging material is lost to the economy after a short first use. Smart companies, such as P&G, see it as good business to harness those resources and roll out sustainability initiatives by making a commitment to putting out products made from non-virgin raw material, creating circular systems that can be nurtured and expanded for growth.
The American giant also said that by the end of 2018, more than 90% of the hair product bottles it sells in Europe will contain as much as 25% post-consumer recycled plastic. This will require a supply of 2,600 tonnes of recycled plastic every year.
Lisa Jennings, Head & Shoulders Vice President, said in a statement that the company felt it should lead in sustainability innovation, and said the move would encourage the industry to do the same.
P&G not only is creating a market for recycled plastics, but a sustainable supply chain designed to feed back into itself. In the design of a “New Plastics Economy”, theoretically, these plastics can then be recycled again to be used over and over.
But as innovations in plastic packaging technologies continue to advance, it is beneficial that material flow solutions for a more effective plastics system develop at a comparable pace. Building momentum towards a more circular economy is up to manufacturers and brands creating and expanding the market for recycled plastics by purchasing recycled materials to make their products, selling them to consumers and making the product easily recyclable.
Tom Szaky, chief executive officer of TerraCycle, said that “creating the world’s first recyclable shampoo bottle with beach plastics is the start of an important journey.”
“With the circular economy gaining more traction, we hope that other global brands will work with green suppliers and use their influence to drive change for the benefit of the environment,” he added.
Read our previous blog posts about Unilever’s 2025 Goals for Sustainable Plastic Packaging and Adidas Shoes Made From Ocean Waste here: