[Katie Nichol for Luxe Packaging Insight]

Plastic Act, a collective initiative spearheaded by French federation FEBEA, aims to reduce the cosmetics industry’s plastic packaging footprint by focusing on the 4Rs: reduce, reuse, recycle and reincorporate. While each company will approach the Plastic Act differently, the collective targets goes beyond the provisions of France’s AGEC anti-waste law for a circular economy.

France’s cosmetics sector is the first to draw up such a plan, according to FEBEA General Delegate Emmanual Guichard. “With the Plastic Act, we are affirming our desire to act collectively (…) to offer consumers products and packaging that meet their needs,” Guichard said in a statement. “To succeed, we will work with our ecosystem throughout the entire value chain — including eco-organization Citeo, packaging manufacturers and recyclers — to develop solutions accessible to all companies.”

“Cooperation is the new competition,” affirms Géraldine Poivert, President and Co-founder of The (RE)SET Company, which worked with FEBEA to draft the Plastic Act. Calling on industry experts and representatives, (RE)SET and Fébea established the key challenges facing plastic cosmetics packaging, assessed the 4R potential of each product category (personal care, hair care, skincare, make-up, fragrance and sampling) and defined a trajectory.

By 2025, the Plastic Act aims to reach the following targets for beauty packaging:

Reduce the amount of plastic used by 15% (or 8,000 tons), by making eco-design widespread and opting for concentrated formulas or large format packs. R&D programs will look to develop plastic alternatives, such as lightweighted glass and paper/cardboard with a barrier function for cream formulas. The industry’s SPICE tool will be used to measure the environmental benefits of such substitutions.

Reuse 20% of plastic, mainly by developing 100% recyclable refills, including paper refills. Enabling companies of all sizes to propose a bulk offer by defining health and safety standards for filling containers in-store is another vector for change.

Reincorporate 10-25% of plastic into new packaging, by securing supply of recycled resins suitable for cosmetics. Fébea also envisages the creation of cosmetics-grade recycled resins, including PP and PE.

Recycle 100% of plastic packaging, by improving the effective recyclability of cosmetics packaging. This would mean simplifying and standardizing the plastic resins used, capturing small packaging to integrate them into the recycling stream, and processing skincare and make-up packs that do not use traditional resins, for example. Working on technical components and decoration to make them recyclable is also key. Consumer education on sorting products for recycling is not to be neglected; Citeo is set to launch a campaign to this effect in September.

Each year in France, the cosmetics sector puts 55,000 tons of plastic packaging on the market, which accounts for 5% of plastic household waste. In terms of materials used in cosmetics packaging, plastic makes up for 44% (in weight), while paper/carboard represents 25%, glass 22% and metal 9%.

FEBEA, which unites 350 members, represents 85% of the cosmetics produced in France.

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