Personal Care in rPE Packaging: New Standards for Plastic Recycling
With a brand-new line of rPE packaging for personal care you have even better options to think about the planet when choosing packaging. This plastic sets new standards for what plastic can
be recycled and how – for example, by processing plastic that was previously incinerated to near-food-grade standards. This is a milestone in the plastic strategy and ambition we launched in 2018.
Plastic is not just plastic. Recycling is not just recycling. And you can’t just recycle plastic without considering what others could use the plastic for.
Therefore, at Nopa Nordic, we are pleased to provide even better options for making a conscious choice – with the launch of rPE plastic for personal care such as shampoo and hand soap.
It is a breakthrough because, among other things, we can process plastic from household waste that would otherwise have been incinerated to near-food-grade standards.
The launch of the new rPE packaging comes about 10 years after we introduced our first bottle in rPET plastic and about 4 years after we launched detergents and cleaning products in rPE. And the packaging is something truly special because:
- It required strong collaboration, notably with Aage Vestergaard Larsen A/S, and is the result of a significant joint effort.
- It is purified to a level that aligns with food standards.
- It involves upcycling from non-food plastic packaging collected from households. Typical packaging comes from cleaning products and personal care packaging, which is processed into near-food quality.
- It is based on locally sourced Nordic plastic, keeping the plastic in a local loop.
Together with Aage Vestergaard Larsen A/S we take plastic that was previously used for, for example, cleaning products – and plastic that is often incinerated instead of being recycled – and use it for new packaging for personal care. Thus, we increase the degree of recycling and and create a better circular system for the plastic.
– We want to inspire others. We want to set a standard and show that there are good and better alternatives. And we want to demonstrate that household-collected plastic can be processed into a plastic quality suitable for personal care products. It can have a significant impact, not only for us, but for society, states Nikolaj Haulrik, Chief Innovation Officer at Nopa Nordic.
From fishing nets to Africa to…
The journey towards the new rPE plastic for personal care has been underway for over three years, with many destinations and round trips. The goal – personal care in plastic that was gentler on our planet – was clear. But the path there was not marked on the map.
– We have also tried fishing nets and flower nets, collecting plastic in Spain, Greece, and Africa… We have tested everything, but our big wish and ambition were to create a local circuit instead of buying plastic from all over the world, says Jeannette Hostrup, Team Manager at Nopa Nordic.
The final solution was found in collaboration with Aage Vestergaard Larsen A/S, the largest company in the Nordic region for plastic recycling. It is Aage Vestergaard Larsen A/S that receives the coarsely sorted household plastic and transforms it into plastic pellets, which then become new packaging.
– No one can do it alone. It requires partnership, trust, long-term ambitions, and a common goal, and we have had that in collaboration with Aage Vestergaard Larsen A/S and the company that produces the packaging, emphasizes Jeannette Hostrup.
Strategy sets high ambitions
The collaboration and ambitions were crucial when we at Nopa Nordic outlined our plastic strategy in 2018. Ambitious goals were set, and choices were made, including a decision not to use compostable plastic.
Once the strategy was set, we took it to our suppliers.
– It was also a tool to say, “This is where we are going. Are you coming?”. Some were on board from the beginning, while it took a bit longer for others. As mentioned, no one can do it alone, and it’s important that someone dares to set the bar high. We did that, says Nikolaj Haulrik, who, along with other colleagues from Nopa Nordic, has been involved in the Plastic Industry’s “Design Guide for Recycling and Reuse of Plastic Packaging for Private Consumers,” which has just been released in its 3rd edition:
– It is crucial that a common direction and understanding are created across all industries that use recycled plastic. There must be plastic for everyone. The design guide helps ensure that, and that’s why it was natural for us to be involved.
It’s about collectively fighting for a better world, and in that fight, it’s of no use to be number one if it comes at the expense of others.