This article is sponsored by Eastman.
Procter & Gamble’s Herbal Essences hair care brand is built around its active botanicals and naturally derived ingredients. The brand values the sustainability of what’s inside its products — as well as the packaging on the outside. P&G’s Net Zero 2040 Climate Transition Action plan calls for a 50 percent reduction of virgin, fossil-based plastic used in packaging by 2030.
When Herbal Essences was planning the launch of its new sulfate-free bio:renew collection, its team turned to Eastman. The brand wanted to increase both the recycled content and recyclability of the collections’ bottles, while preserving the iconic Herbal Essences branding that is immediately recognizable to consumers.
We introduced them to our Eastman Renew materials, made with our molecular recycling technologies.
The new Herbal Essences bio:renew packaging is a molecular recycled PET (polyethylene terephthalate). It is made with 50 percent recycled content that is certified through a mass balance allocation process by the International Sustainability & Carbon Certification (ISCC).
Since November, Herbal Essences has introduced six shampoo and conditioner collections in primary packaging made from Eastman Renew resins. This material solution is expected to result in 1 ton of plastic waste being diverted from landfills for every 2 tons of bottles produced.
So how does this all work? Our molecular recycling technologies transform single-use or hard-to-recycle plastic waste — think colored shampoo bottles, food packaging trays or textiles, not clear water or soda bottles — into basic, molecular building blocks. Once broken down, these building blocks are indistinguishable from those produced by fossil-based resources. They are then fed into Eastman’s existing manufacturing processes and used to make materials that look and perform just like those made through traditional manufacturing processes. And, because molecular recycling breaks plastic down into the original building blocks without compromising quality, the process can be done an endless number of times.
This advanced technology expands the types and amounts of plastic that can be recycled, and in doing so diverts more plastic waste from landfills, incinerators and the environment. We offer many of our specialty polymers with molecular recycled content for various markets — including reusable water bottles, small appliances, eyewear, and cosmetic and personal care packaging.
In addition to investing in recycled materials, Procter & Gamble and Eastman are working together to increase the types and volume of materials being recycled. Both companies are founding steering committee members of the PET Recycling Coalition, an initiative of The Recycling Partnership announced in June. Through grants, technical assistance and knowledge sharing, the coalition aims to create a more robust recycling system that will capture more material and enable PET packaging with increased amounts of recycled content.
Herbal Essences also continues to offer a national recycling program through its ongoing partnership with TerraCycle. The new sulfate-free bio:renew collection packaging not only incorporates 50 percent recycled plastic, but it’s also recyclable and includes standard How2Recycle labels to help consumers understand how to keep that plastic in the loop.
Eastman and P&G believe their collective impact can reach beyond providing immediate tangible benefits for consumers. Working together to create value from waste can stimulate the systems change that is needed to make circular innovation the common practice. It is a virtuous circle: As more brands pursue high levels of recycled content in their packaging and seek to meet consumer demand for high-quality recycled materials, this helps create demand for a broader variety of waste plastic feedstocks that are not valued today — and thus not collected. That increased demand helps drive the infrastructure changes needed to extract the value from materials that today are just going into landfills or being incinerated. It’s a complicated problem that takes all of us to solve. At Eastman and P&G, we know that working together can drive critical changes in both recycling infrastructure and industry standards.
This is something that Rachel Zipperian, my colleague at Herbal Essences who worked with us on the bio:renew packaging, understands well. She says, "It’s on all of us to make a difference and create a more sustainable future where plastics are truly recycled, reused and out of nature. Making this package change to Eastman Renew materials reduces the brand’s dependence on virgin plastic and helps us bring the world one step closer to making plastic a circular resource."
Want to learn more about sustainable materials? I encourage you to download our consumer insights report for three tips for talking to consumers about sustainable materials.