In order to reduce the amount of virgin plastics used in the makeup category of its beauty business, the Kao group has committed itself to increase the proportion of recycled resins in all its plastic cosmetic containers. To that end, the group has partnered with PET Refine Technology, a subsidiary of Jeplan that uses the chemical recycling technology developed by the Jeplan group. Kao has started introducing the chemically recycled PET materials progressively from July of this year.

Fully regenerated PET

Chemical recycling consists in breaking down used PET material to remove impurities. The molecules are then repolymerized in order to be used as a new raw material PET resin. This technology differs from mechanical recycling as it allows to fully regenerate PET with the same physical properties and quality as those of virgin resins directly derived from petroleum.

Kao began using chemically recycled PET materials in June 2021 for the containers of its cosmetics brand Twany, and has been gradually expanding their use to a number of brands.

In addition to this, Kao is collaborating with Jeplan on a horizontal recycling field test where used cosmetics bottles collected from customers are turned into new plastic cosmetic bottles. Packaging are collected at selected retail outlets and used for field testing of material recycling based on Jeplan’s chemical recycling technology.

Combining refill and recycled materials

Usually, the compact case containing powder foundations can be easily refilled using inner plates made of virgin PET material or aluminium, depending on the features of the product. For its makeup brands, Kao currently uses inner plates made of virgin PET material. These plates will be gradually switched to chemically recycled PET material of the same quality, thus allowing concerned brands to combine refill and the use of recycled plastics to lower their carbon and environmental footprint.

In the future, Kao will also consider other initiatives to achieve horizontal recycling and realize plastic circularity in society through its ESG strategy established in 2019, which has set "Zero Waste" as one of its key targets.

Kao’s cosmetics division includes over 20 brands such as Attack, Bioré, Goldwell, Jergens, John Frieda, Kanebo, Laurier, Merries, and Molton Brown. Combined with its chemical division, which contributes to a wide range of industries, Kao generates about 1,420 billion yen in annual sales. Kao employs about 33,500 people worldwide.