Beauty products maker Aveda Corp. has launched the first corporate initiative in the U.S. to recycle plastic bottle caps nationwide.
``We are trying to keep the material out of the landfills, out of the ocean,'' said Dean Maune, executive director of package development at Aveda Corp. in Blaine, Minn. The 30-year-old company was acquired by Estee Lauder Cos. in 1997.
``We want to educate consumers, communicate the value of recycling polypropylene bottle caps and build a sustainable stream of recyclable material,'' he said at Pack Expo in Chicago.
So far, the Caps Recycling program has collected and recycled more than 50,000 pounds of caps, much of that since the collection plan went nationwide at the company's 150 stores in April. He said Aveda soon will ship a truckload of bottle caps roughly 40,000 pounds from its Blaine site for sorting and reprocessing into recycled PP pellets. In addition, nearly 200 schools, some of the 4,500 salons that sell Aveda products and 70 Aveda Academy training institutes have joined in.
The recycling initiative reflects the firm's long-standing commitment to being environmentally friendly, said Maune. Aveda makes its products from flowers and plants, and uses 100 percent recycled PET for its PET containers. It uses 96 percent recycled HDPE for its HDPE containers. Most of its bottles and tubes are made with HDPE; some of its bottles and jars from PET.
In September, Aveda relaunched its original Clove shampoo with a molded cap made from 100 percent recycled polypropylene. In three other projects under way, Aveda intends to make caps with anywhere from 25-100 percent recycled PP. The firm already makes some threaded tube caps from a 50 percent blend of recycled PP.
``Our goal is to inspire long-term change in how the beauty industry approaches package design,'' Maune said. ``We want to design packaging so it can be reused at the end of its useful life.''
The Caps Recycling program launched amid growing awareness of plastics litter in the ocean, and after a school teacher in New York whose husband was an employee at Aveda started plastic cap recycling as an educational program for her students three years ago.
That success triggered further expansion into other schools, and partnerships with three other companies, after Aveda realized there was no infrastructure in place to collect bottle caps.
``We built an infrastructure for collection and transportation,'' said Deb Darling, director of package development for Aveda.
Schools collect the caps in boxes, affix labels from Aveda to the containers, and mail them at Aveda's expense to one of three central points the collection center in New York that opened a year ago, or collection centers that began operations in April at the company's manufacturing facility in Blaine and its warehouse/distribution center in Los Angeles. Consumers can also send bottle caps they collect to any of the three sites.
UPS Inc. picks up the boxes and delivers them to Aveda's waste collection partner, Aca Waste Services Inc. in West Babylon, N.Y. Aca sorts the caps, and when it has a truckload, ships them to KW Plastics in Troy, Ala., which recycles the caps into pellets.
The Aveda Caps Recycling program collects caps that twist on with a threaded neck the type typically found on shampoo, water, soft drinks and milk; flip-top lids on tubes and food products like ketchup; laundry detergent bottle caps; and jar lids like those on peanut butter containers.
The lack of supply and a clean stream of material have hindered Aveda's desire to use more recycled PP in its caps, said Maune.