Eastman Chemical Co. has joined the Pact Collective, a nonprofit collective of beauty industry stakeholders that is working to end packaging waste in the beauty and wellness industries.
Pact says the beauty industries generate more than 120 billion packages each year, of which only a tiny fraction is currently recycled. With the collective, Eastman will explore the options to deploy its molecular recycling technologies to recycle beauty packaging that is unable to be mechanically recycled.
According to the Pact, a great deal of beauty packaging cannot actually be recycled: it is too small, made of mixed materials, too flexible or made of material that has no end market. As a result, most of this packaging ends up in landfills, is incinerated or littered. It could, in the worst case, end up in the ocean.
Pact Collective members are focusing on improving the end of life of beauty packaging and developing solutions better designed for circularity.
As the Pact pointed out, beauty and wellness products tend to be designed for short-term use, with very few made to last or be reused, and these design decisions have a huge impact on a product’s end-of-life.
“The recycling challenges for the beauty industry are complex,” said Tara Cary, Eastman cosmetics packaging segment manager. “Eastman is committed to working with the industry on solutions to achieve a more sustainable future. Pact Collective is positioned to bring participants in the value chain together to achieve real results.”
Pact offers both an in-store collection program and a mail-back program for hard-to- recycle beauty packaging. The collective views Eastman as a valuable partner because of its molecular recycling technologies that make it possible to recycle materials that the industry can then use again in packaging.
“Pact identifies the highest and best use for the materials we collect — always starting with mechanical recycling when that is an option. What we like about Eastman’s technology is that it is true material-to-material recycling, not waste-to-fuel or energy,” said Pact co-founder Mia Davis. “Eastman can help us keep plastic material in circulation, creating more recycled content that can be used in future beauty packaging and other items.”
Kingsport, Tenn.-based Eastman has already introduced two portfolios of mass-balanced ISCC-certified polymers for cosmetic packaging over the past 18 months — its Eastman Cristal Renew copolyesters with high levels of certified recycled content and Eastman Cristal One Renew, a copolyester with recycled content designed to be fully compatible with the PET recycling stream.
As an important next step in building the circular economy, Eastman is exploring strategic take-back programs in many of the markets it serves to create “small, closed loops”, like beauty-beauty recycled packaging.