The greatest obstacle to a faster introduction of recycled plastics for products from the consumer goods sector is the scarcity of qualitatively acceptable recyclates. The use of recyclates in the context of a growing circular economy is limited, with a few exceptions, to the approved food-grade recyclates for which there are legal regulations within the framework of the European food authority EFSA.
It is to be expected that in the non-food consumer goods industry the demand for plastic recyclates for packaging alone will increase within the next 5 years roughly fivefold to well over 1 million t/year. However, the existing sources of usable recyclate are largely exhausted across the EU – especially in the area of polyolefins – so that new sources and/or new capacities have to be found. It is undisputed that there is more than enough generally usable post-consumer plastic waste that is already collected and processed separately in many EU countries.
CosPaTox seeks to define toxicological safety guidelines for PCRs used in cosmetics packaging, with a first focus on polyolefins (rPE-HD, rPE-LD and rPP; if time and budget allows also PET). Three different types of packaging are in the focus of CosPaTox:
- cosmetics leave-on,
- cosmetics rinse-off and
- wash- and cleaning detergents.
This order reflects the decreasing demands of recyclate quality. The whole industry will benefit from our work, including companies that have so far refrained from considering non-food PCR as a material due to the lack of toxicological evaluation and standardization.
Our objective also includes the generation of test and measurement methods that can be used quickly on-site by recyclers. The development of a fast analysis is considered essential for the future success of higher recycled content rates, as today it takes weeks to evaluate the recyclate quality e.g. via migration testing. The CosPaTox Consortium is technology, we do not restrict any recycling technology.
We expect a project duration of 24 months to publish our dossier with recommendations for a voluntary industry standard.
Towards a Circular Economy
Circular economy will be of utmost importance in the future and because of the ongoing EU and national activities in closing post-consumer plastic waste cycles. In 2015, the European Commission adopted an EU Action Plan for a circular economy. Plastics have been identified as a key priority and therefore, a strategy addressing the challenges posed by plastics throughout the value chain should be prepared. Plastics are important and ubiquitous materials in today’s economy and daily lives. They have multiple functions that help tackle a number of the challenges facing our society. However, too often the way plastics are produced, used and discarded fails to capture the economic benefits of a ‘circular’ approach and harms the environment. The circular economy represents an alternative and more sustainable model to the traditional linear economy (take, make, dispose).
CosPaTox emerged from #ForumRezyklat, an initiative by dm-drogerie markt in 2018, and works on strategies and measures to raise people’s awareness of the circular economy, aiming to achieve the sorting of recyclable materials by type. In the long term, this will increase the recycling rate and the proportion of recycled materials in packaging. Furthermore, the Forum strives to reduce packaging in general and to ensure that new packaging is designed for recyclability, so that it remains a resource in a circular economy.