Less Plastic, More Paper
When it comes to packaging, Procter & Gamble has set itself two goals: By 2030, all packaging is to be recyclable or reusable and, at the same time, petroleum-based plastics are to be reduced by half. In doing so, the Group is aligning itself with the targets of the EU Packaging Regulation (PPWR). This can only be achieved by going several ways, explains Sven Seibert, Director of Packaging Development at Procter & Gamble.
When it comes to packaging, Procter & Gamble has set itself two goals: by 2030, all packaging is to be recyclable or reusable and, at the same time, petroleum-based plastics are to be reduced by half. In doing so, the Group is aligning itself with the targets of the EU Packaging Regulation (PPWR). This can only be achieved by going several ways, explains Sven Seibert, Director of Packaging Development at Procter & Gamble.
Procter & Gamble is pursuing three different approaches to achieve its own targets, which will presumably soon be mandated by law as well: replacing plastic with paper, increasing the use of recycled materials instead of primary plastics, and new packaging designs that use less material.
The best examples of this are the Gillette and Gillette Venus system razors. Two years ago, all blister packs were replaced by cardboard, says Sven Seibert, Director of Packaging Development at Procter & Gamble. Across Europe, this saves 545 tons of plastic annually – as much as 55 million PET bottles. Procter & Gamble has also switched to paper packaging for Always Cotton Protection sanitary towels. And the detergent pods from the Ariel and Lenor brands are now also in paper instead of plastic boxes. The latter changeover for small and medium-sized containers in Europe alone saves up to 6,500 tons of plastic per year, says Seibert. “That’s roughly equivalent to 700 garbage trucks.”
But plastic cannot be replaced by paper everywhere – for example in liquid detergents or shampoos. Here, P&G wants to rely more on recycled plastics. The bottle bodies of Fairy, Lenor fabric softener, Pantene-Pro-V and Head & Shoulders shampoo in Western European countries, for example, are already made entirely of recycled material,Seibert says.
Good Quality Recyclates
P&G is not alone in this. In almost all industries, companies are increasingly trying to incorporate recycled plastics into their products. Accordingly, the product is in short supply and expensive. “We need sufficient recyclates in good quality,” says Seibert. Regarding this issue, the packaging expert is relying, among other things, on the CosPaTox corporate initiative, which aims to classify recycled plastics according to different quality standards. After all, “you don’t need food-grade recyclate for detergents and cleaning products,” he says. In Seibert’s view, there should, therefore, be different standards for individual product categories. This is precisely what CosPaTox is working on. Different requirements are defined for detergents, rinse-off and leave-on cosmetics. The more sensitive the application, the more important the purity of the recyclate.
In the meantime, the use of virgin plastic can be reduced in another way: the bottle design of the new “Bare” line by Head & Shoulders, for example, was created strictly according to design-for-recyclability guidelines (D4R guidelines), Seibert says.
The result is a “lightweight bottle made entirely of mono-material, including cap and label,” which contains “48 percent less plastic” overall. “I think that’s very remarkable,” the manager says. And the fact that it is now thinner and more flexible also makes it “much easier to remove even the last drop” – also a plus for the environment. Touchstone symbols for people with visual impairments were also applied on the occasion.
EU lawmakers are also aiming for more reusable packaging. What contribution can P&G make in this area? “We are actively working in this issue,” Seibert says, “with the ‘Refill the Good’ system by Head & Shoulders and Pantene Pro-V.” The recyclable mono-material refill pouch saves about 60 percent plastic compared to a standard shampoo bottle. “We know that’s what people care about.”