In a webinar hosted by Premium Beauty News, Dow - the producer of SURLYN™ - outlined the steps in a new sustainable journey for this polymer, which is highly regarded for its aesthetic qualities.

Thierry de Baschmakoff, Luxury designer, Artistic Director, Brand Maker and Founder of the Luxury design agency De Baschmakoff, first recalled SURLYN™ is a very interesting material for designing perfume and cosmetic packaging well beyond the search for transparency. “This material, which was known for one specific application, can now be seen from new angles,” he said.

For its part, Mark Langenhof, Business Development & Application Engineer within the Morssinkhof-Rymoplast group, one of the biggest Plastics Recyclers in Europe, points out that to date a lot of progress remains to be made in terms of plastic circularity. “14% of plastic packaging is collected these days, and only 2% is recycled back into its original application,” he said.

Parts used in cosmetics are often small in size and can pass through screens at municipal recycling centres. This is why Morssinkhof-Rymoplast recommends the implementation of a deposit return schemes for multi-material packaging.

A recyclable and recycled material

SURLYN™ is a material that has brought freedom to designers of the beauty world for many years”, confirmed Shouhaib Mohamed, EMEA Marketing Manager for Cosmetic at Dow. “In contrast, few people know that this material is compatible with HDPE recycling streams,” he added. That’s why Dow worked with COTREP [1] to confirm this key issue.

Recycling solutions exist and SURLYN™ packaging parts, whether transparent or tinted, are already parly recycled. At Luxe Pack 2019, for instance, Dow had demonstrated, in partnership with the Italian company Premi, the possibility of creating elegant perfume caps using 40% of SURLYN™ recycled resin. “Several retailers have already set up collection systems for cosmetic packaging,” said Natacha Bitinis, EMEA Application Technology Leader for Cosmetic and Rigid Packaging at Dow. Thanks to this, mechanical recycling programmes dedicated to the SURLYN™ are studied, for which “the cooperation of all stakeholders will be necessary”. Of course, volumes will be reduced at the beginning, and there will also be quality limitations that are inherent to the use of post-consumer recycled materials.

That’s why Dow is already thinking about the next step.

Advanced recycling

In the short term, if we want to achieve scalable volumes and the same quality as virgin resin, then we also need to work on another solution, called advanced recycling,” explained Shouhaib Mohamed. This technology complementary to mechanical recycling allows to break down mixed waste plastics into their original form to manufacture new virgin like quality polymers. With this in mind, Dow has signed a partnership agreement with the company Fuenix Ecogy, in the Netherlands. “These technologies are well developed but requires a certain level of investment,” he added.

As advanced recycling allows to achieve identical performance to virgin materials, we are evaluating this option for many of our materials including SURLYN™.