Technological watch

Henkel is working towards sustainability targets; introduces recyclable black plastic packaging

Henkel is working with its supplier Ampacet, a global provider of masterbatch, for developing a novel fully recyclable solution for black plastic packaging.  This innovative packaging material will be made using an alternative carbon-free black color. This will enable the used bottles to be integrated back into the value chain. Henkel will introduce these new black bottles of toilet cleaning products under the Bref brand in May. This will be followed by the adoption of the packaging for other  Henkel products in the course of the year.

“Recognizing that black bottles are one of the central challenges when it comes to recyclability of used packaging, we want to be part of the solution: The new material will contribute to closing the loop of plastic packaging in a sustainable way,” says Vineet Varman, Head of International Packaging Development for Special Detergents at Henkel Laundry & Home Care. “Our joint development projects across all our three business units underline Henkel’s commitment to sustainable packaging and to drive progress toward a circular value chain.”

Black plastic packaging has so far posed a challenge for the recycling industry due to the use of black color. This is so because recycling facilities use near infra-red (NIR) technology for identifying the  plastic materials that have to be recycled. The reflection of light is utilized by the optical sensors, which helps in detection of the material and it is then sorted accordingly. However these optical sensors cannot identify the black plastic packaging due to presence of carbon black.

Other than this innovative project, Henkel is also working with Ampacet on a pilot project for developing new packaging for different products across business units. The new material’s sustainability has been confirmed by tests under real conditions. The new black packaging has been certified as fully detectable and sortable in traditional recycling systems by Cyclops-HTP. Cyclis- HTP is an institute which specializes in the classification, assessment and certification of recyclability of packaging and goods.

Henkel’s packaging development teams are working towards successful integration of this newly developed packaging material into newer packaging types and ensuring that the final packaging meets the highest quality standards. As a next step, the packaging teams are also driving the integration of recycled content in the packaging.

“We are honored to partner with Henkel to support the circular economy with this innovation,” says Philippe Hugelé, Ampacet Strategic Business Manager, Moulding. “As part of our sustainability initiative, our REC-NIR-BLACK carbon-black free masterbatch provides a second life for black plastic packaging by allowing scanning by near-infrared technology for automated sorting at recovery facilities. We are pleased to be able to contribute to packaging recyclability for Henkel’s iconic brands.” Ampacet also has the distinction of its product, REC-NIR-BLACK being named the “Product Technology Innovation of the Year” at the Plastics Recycling Awards Europe 2019 in April.

Henkel’s packaging strategy targets use of 100 percent recyclable, reusable and compostable packaging by 2025, The recyclable black plastic packaging adoption is a step in this direction. Henkel is also targeting to increase the share of recycled plastic to 35 percent for its consumer goods products in Europe by 2025. The company is also engaged in several partnerships in its quest to drive innovation in packaging development and finding effective large scale solutions.  Henkel is also a member of the New Plastics Economy (NPEC), founding member of the Alliance to End Plastic Waste (AEPW) and partner of social enterprise Plastic Bank.

Publication date: 14/05/2019

Plastics INsight

This project has been co-funded with the support of the LIFE financial instrument of the European Union [LIFE17 ENV/ES/000438] Life programme

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Last update: 2020-07-14