Dow and LVMH Beauty have announced their intention to collaborate to accelerate the use of sustainable packaging across the LVMH’s portfolio of perfume and cosmetic brands.

Two new Surlyn grades

The collaboration aims to enable both bio-based and circular plastics to be integrated into several of the beauty multinational’s product applications without compromising functionality or quality of the packaging. Dow’s priority is to be able to produce their well-known Surlyn resin in a sustainable way.

Surlyn (a copolymer of ethylene and methacrylic acid) is the first ionomer resin that was placed on the market, back in 1964. It is widely used as a coating and packaging material because of its glass-like transparency. It is precisely this requirement for transparency that makes it difficult to use recycled materials to produce it.

In 2019, in partnership with Premi, Dow had already presented caps made of 40% Surlyn from post-industrial manufacturing scraps. The material was recovered from industrial plastic waste then crushed prior to being integrated into a new production process. Since the large amount of recycled material used to make the caps prevented reaching the high level of transparency characteristic of Surlyn, these caps had been presented in colourful versions.

To overcome this hurdle, Dow turned to an advanced recycling solution in partnership with specialized manufacturers, but also to the use of bio-based feedstock. “We hope to launch two new grades of sustainable Surlyn by the end of the year: a bio-based grade; and a circular grade created from advanced recycling, without compromising on quality,” said Shouhaib Mohamed, Marketing Manager, Cosmetic Packaging EMEA at Dow.

Transparent and sustainable jars and caps

For the production of bio-based Surlyn, Dow plans to use raw materials such as used cooking oil. According to Dow, only waste residues or by-products from an alternative production process will be utilized, these raw feedstock materials will not consume extra land resources nor compete with the food chain.

"We are committed not to compete with food resources for the production of our polymers", emphasizes Shouhaib Mohamed.

For the circular Surlyn grade, Dow will use advanced recycling technologies to transform mixed plastic wastes that are hard-to-recycle through traditional mechanical processes. These technologies break down waste plastics into their basic chemical elements using heat and pressure, creating raw material that is equivalent to those made from virgin fossil feedstock. This raw material, or circular feedstock, can be used in a wide range of packaging, giving waste that is currently going to landfill or being incinerated a second life.

“We have entered into various partnerships with manufacturers of these recycled materials,” continues Shouhaib Mohamed.

Dow promises these new grades of sustainable Surlyn will deliver similar crystalline transparency and freedom of design expected from the rest of the range. Within 2023, they will be used by LVMH Beauty to lower the carbon footprint of their packaging (mostly perfume caps and cosmetic cream jars).

“At LVMH, with our Life 360 program, we made the decision that our packaging will contain zero plastic from virgin fossil resources in a near future. Collaborating with Dow in developing sustainable Surlyn is key, as this material is used in some of our iconic perfumes, starting with Guerlain La Petite Robe Noire. It is helping LVMH achieve our sustainability targets without any compromise on quality”, said Claude Martinez, Executive President and Managing Director of LVMH Beauty.