Conscious that circular economy will be of utmost importance in the future and as a consequence of the ongoing EU and national activities in closing post-consumer plastic waste cycles, the industry Consortium CosPaTox has been founded. CosPaTox stands for Cosmetics, Packaging and Toxicology. The goal is to accomplish the so far missing special safety standards for high-quality Post-Consumer Plastic Recyclates (PCRs) for cosmetics and other household packaging. The time frame is ambitious: within 24 months, CosPaTox intends to publish the results of this work.
CosPaTox consists of major European brand owners of the cosmetic industry, hygiene and detergents & cleaning agent sectors in cooperation with committed recycling companies, plastic manufacturers and plastic convertors which are also counted amongst the members. Moreover, scientific experts in the field of post-consumer packaging waste recycling (e.g. Fraunhofer IVV, FH Wien, Fabes) have been involved in order to implement a focussed working programme in cooperation with industry specialists from member companies.
The aim is to define toxicological safety guidelines for PCRs used in cosmetics packaging, with a first focus on polyolefins (PE and PP). 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 rising demands of recyclate quality. The whole industry will benefit from this 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.
In addition to the determination of toxicologically safe limit values, the 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 open to new members. However, active participation requires a high level of competence in the areas of toxicology as well as the production and processing of plastic recyclates to enrich the working packages. Passive participation is a welcomed option, too.
The European Commission adopted an EU Action Plan for a circular economy in 2015. 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).