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Henkel: Circular solutions for sustainable packaging


While plastic is a convenient packaging material for products offering many benefits, plastic waste in the environment has created an immense environmental challenge. Henkel is looking to create innovative solutions to this problem, working with a number of partners on joint initiatives to contribute to making packaging more sustainable and progress towards a circular economy.

The power of partnership

Henkel has set ambitious packaging targets through product design that facilitates recyclability, repair and maintenance. One hundred percent of Henkel’s packaging will be recyclable or reusable by 2025. The company aims to achieve a 50 percent reduction of fossil-based virgin plastics by increasing the share of recycled plastic used in its consumer goods product packaging to over 30 percent globally by reducing plastic volume and using biobased plastics.

To accelerate progress in the global battle against plastic waste, Henkel has joined forces with a number of partners, including the Alliance to End Plastic Waste (AEPW), the New Plastics Economy (NPEC) by the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, and CEFLEX (A Circular Economy for Flexible Packaging). In 2017, Henkel entered into a partnership with the social enterprise Plastic Bank with the joint goal to fight ocean plastic and providing opportunities for people in need, especially in countries lacking waste management infrastructure.

Joining forces with local communities

Together with Plastic Bank, Henkel is helping reduce plastic waste while improving the lives of people in coastal communities. The partnership builds ethical recycling ecosystems and reprocesses the materials for reintroduction into the global manufacturing supply chain. This means waste is transformed into a valuable raw material and keeps plastic out of the environment. The plastic waste is integrated back into the recycling value chain as “Social Plastic®”, which can be used for product packaging.

Since the partnership began, Henkel has supported projects in the Philippines and Indonesia, helped establish five new plastic collection branches in Haiti, and most recently, three collection centres in Egypt. The local population can return collected plastic waste in collection centres and exchange it for money, goods, or services. Collectors use it to provide basic family necessities such as groceries, cooking fuel, school tuition, and health insurance. The project pays into people, planet and products, enabling a true circular economy.

Impact through innovation

Henkel has successfully launched product packaging with “Social Plastic®”, integrating almost 600 metric tons of Social Plastic® in 2020 alone into the packaging of its core brands within its Beauty Care as well as Laundry & Home Care Business Units. Henkel has received several packaging awards including the Packaging Europe Sustainability Award 2019 for its Social Plastic® packaging and the Diamond Dow Packaging Innovation Award.

To learn more about how Henkel is taking on the sustainable packaging challenge, watch this short film from the Cosmetics Europe Essentials for Daily Life series produced by BBC StoryWorks.

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