Sustainability is not new to Henkel. The consumer goods company  claims that all of its packaging is “designed to meet consumers’ expectations while using the least possible amount of material - and the most sustainable materials.” However, the group now aims to adopt a more holistic approach through a new strategic framework reflecting the three key phases of a circular value chain.
Henkel’s new sustainable packaging strategy translates each of these phases into specific actions:
Materials from sustainable sources. Henkel commits itself to including an increasing share of sustainable materials into its product packaging - this relates both to its use of recycled materials, especially recycled plastic, and renewable materials such as paper and cardboard.
Smart packaging design. According to Henkel, smart design is key to facilitate the use of recycled or renewable packaging materials. Furthermore, the group will explore innovative solutions along the entire value chain, e.g. in the field of transport packaging and related logistics. In addition, Henkel aims at continuing its efforts to reduce the amount of packaging material it uses.
Closing the loop. Henkel commits to making sure its product packaging can be recycled after the product has been consumed, e.g. by entering into partnerships to promote appropriate systems for recycling. In addition, the company wants to further explore solutions like refill systems which allow consumers to reuse packaging. Henkel is also actively searching for materials that enable packaging to be returned into nature - such as biodegradable materials that meet international composting standards.
“It is more important than ever for companies, consumers, governments and other organizations to drive progress toward a circular economy. Only by reusing and recycling as much material as possible will we be able to live well within the resource limits of our planet. This concept is at the heart of our approach to sustainable packaging,” says Kathrin Menges, Executive Vice President Human Resources at Henkel and Chair of Henkel’s Sustainability Council. “Together with our partners along the entire value chain, we want to include materials from sustainable sources into smart designs to close the loop – for the benefit of people and the planet.”
In order to further drive innovation in sustainable packaging development and promote improved recycling infrastructure, Henkel is collaborating with a variety of partners, including the Ellen MacArthur Foundation that brings stakeholders together to rethink and redesign the future of plastics and build momentum toward a circular economy, and the Plastic Bank, a social enterprise aiming to stop ocean plastic and provide opportunities for people in poverty by giving them a chance to earn money or services by removing plastic waste from their local environment.