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Transformative Impact Of The UK Plastic Packaging Tax On The Global Cosmetics Packaging

A brand new tax on plastic packaging came into force in the UK on April 1, 2022, and any company that roduces or imports plastic packaging components (empty or filled) would be charged £200 (about RMB1,668) per ton for materials containing less than 30 percent recyclable plastic in 10 or more tons within 12 months. The aim of the tax is to encourage the use of recyclable plastic in the production of plastic packaging for the cosmetics and personal care industries.


This may all sound well-intended, but the tax is likely to be a real challenge for the producers and manufacturers of beauty products. But after the announcement of the tax, L'Oreal, Unilever, Henkel and other daily chemical companies remain calm and express that they can move away from single-use plastic packaging and embrace more sustainable options, and sustainable and renewable packaging is the future of cosmetics packaging, because they have already started to transform product packaging by using recycled plastic.


The future of cosmetic packaging is eco-desirability, said Brice*Andre, L'Oreal Global Director of Sustainable Packaging. L'Oreal is working actively to develop beauty packaging solutions that are more sustainable. For example, refills can be put into the packaging when customers use out Rosso Valentino Lipstick. By 2030, it wants to reduce the total amount of packaging in its global portfolio by 20% compared to a 2019 baseline, and will ensure that all packaging is reusable or recyclable, or made from biomaterials that can be absorbed by the soil. What's more, it calls for a major shift toward completely recyclable cosmetic packaging.


Unilever is also eager to have a try in the packaging transformation and starts to use sustainable packaging for its entire toothpaste portfolio including Signal, Pepsodent and Closeup. It plans to replace aluminum in toothpaste tubes with high-density polyethylene (HDPE), a recyclable material approved by RecyClass in Europe, Asia and North America. Richard Slater, Chief Research and Development Officer at Unilever, declares that they are creating a new generation of technologies and ingredients for packaging container cosmetic and personal care that are not only efficient, but also recyclable and sustainable.


Transition beauty business models from linear to circular

The Abbey Group, a French supplier specializing in the production of recyclable packaging materials, is well known for its excellent performance in sustainable tubing packaging innovations. It cooperated with L'Oreal to develop paper-based face cream packaging container and with Henkel and GlaxoSmithKline to develop fully recyclable toothpaste tubes.

Francois Luscan, President and CEO of Abbey Group, said that current cosmetic packaging model is linear that is featured by disposable, one-way, non-reusable packaging. Given the data that about 95 percent of plastic packaging is discarded after a single use from the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, the Abbey Group has recognized that this linear model should be transformed into a repetitive, recyclable and circular model, and recycled or refilled packaging will increase economic gains worth at least $10 billion compared to disposable packaging. It calls for transition from linear to circular model and close cooperation at every stage of the supply chain.

Parag Chaturvedi, vice president of operations at EPL Americas, which works with Unilever to produce sustainable packaging, also said that the future of beauty and cosmetics packaging must center on circularity and sustainability, and all the cosmetic companies should transfer from linear to circular, save resources, reduce wastes and protect the environment. But are consumers ready to accept the circular model of cosmetic packaging? If they are not, it may pose a huge challenge. Fortunately, the current market is actually starting to shift. More and more consumers begin to accept the refillable and reusable circular packaging model and would like to choose packaging with higher quality or even personalized packaging. And packaging container cosmetic enterprises can make use of these changing trends by offering more attractive and more functional packaging or providing customized packaging.

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