UK initiative encourages recycled PET beauty packaging

By Simon Pitman

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Recycling

Leading UK beauty retailer Boots has participated in an initiatives
to encourage the adoption of more sustainable PET packaging for a
broad range of its personal care products on sale throughout

Boots, together with Coca-Cola and Marks & Spencer, has completed a year-long trial funded by the Waste & Resources Action Programme (WRAP), to explore the potential to close the recycling loop for PET packaging, currently one of the most popular forms of packaging for the beauty industry worldwide.

According to WRAP, the findings from the trials have been 'very positive', showing that recycled PET can meet the technical, commercial and safety requirements demanded by the retail sector, as well as meeting consumer demands.

As a result of the successful trialing WRAP says that all three manufacturers have agreed to use recycled PET on a commercial scale in the future, or else are already doing so.

"This is a major breakthrough for plastics recycling in the UK,"​ said WRAP chief executive Jennie Price.

"This type of commitment from major brand names signals a growth in demand for recycled PET, which will in turn stimulate UK recycling capacity and will also show consumers that there is a strong home market for the plastic they recycle, helping to motivate them to recycle more," Price added.

Currently the demand for PET is growing faster than any other type of plastic on a worldwide basis. But very little is actually recycled.

In the UK, where up to 40,000 tons of PET packaging is manufactured each year, only a tiny proportion is recycled PET.

WRAP says that the aim of its trials has been to close this gap and encourage the more widespread use of PET packaging in all retail applications, especially beauty and food and beverage applications.

After questioning its customers over the use of recycled PET packaging for its Food to Go range, Marks & Spencers reported that 96 per cent said they thought the initiative was a good idea and that 85 per cent said they felt better shopping at the store because of the initiative.

For its trials Boots used 30 per cent recycled PET in its high profile Ingredients range of toiletries. The initiative was incorporated into the company's own packaging manufacturing base in Nottingham were the bottles for the Ingredients range of shampoos and conditioners are produced.

"We chose Boots mainstream 'Ingredients' range for the trial as both bottles and product are manufactured at our factory,"​ said Andrew Jenkins, Boots' sustainable development manager.

"This enabled us to rigorously evaluate the use of recyled PET at each stage of the supply chain, whilst developing our expertise in this area. Feedback has been positive from production and customers alike. We are now poised to roll out the use of recycled PET to other products with potentially increased inclusion rates."

WRAP said that given the success of the trials and the continued high prices of virgin PET, it believes that plans to upscale the production of recycled PET on a large scale will start to be realised by 2007.

However, it also points out that, as demand grows quickly, there is the likelihood that many packaging manufacturers will find it hard to meet requirements in the early stages as demand is likely to outweigh the availability of recycled PET.WRAP believes that this gives rise to a great deal of work for the association. This means it will be working with local authorities, the recycling sector and consumers to ensure that households waste is recycled on a large enough scale to meet the demands for PET recycling.

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