L’Oréal is investing in biotech alongside a pioneering startup that wants to revolutionize recycling. The beauty conglomerate has taken a minority stake in Carbios, which focuses on finding bio-industrial solutions to reinvent the lifecycle of plastic and textile polymers. The company will use the investment - provided via L’Oréal’s corporate venture capital fund Bold Business Opportunities for L’Oréal Development - to finance a technology it has developed that uses specific enzymes in order to recycle PET (Polyethylene terephthalate) plastics and polyester fibres.
The concept, which recycles broader materials than other recycling technologies, creates recycled PET plastic that is of the same standard as ‘virgin’ PET, making it suitable for use in beauty bottles and packaging.
"This participation demonstrates our support of new sustainable development technologies, in line with our commitment that by 2025, 100% of our packaging will be recycled, recyclable or compostable, and more specifically, 50% of the plastic used in our packaging will be recycled or bio-sourced," said Barbara Lavernos, Executive Vice-President Operations of L’Oréal, in a statement.
L’Oréal and Carbios already have history, having founded a consortium to bring advanced recycling technology to the market on an industrial scale back in 2017, with the group recently being joined by Nestlé Waters, PepsiCo and Suntory Beverage & Food Europe.
The French beauty giant is not the only cosmetics heavyweight addressing the issue of plastic waste. Back in April, the personal care conglomerate Unilever, which counts beauty brands Dove, TreSemmé, Tigi and St Ives on its books, unveiled a three-part plan to target plastic use in the US, including setting itself a target of achieving 50% post-consumer recycled (PCR) plastic packaging by the end of 2019. In January, Procter & Gamble teamed up with several major companies to co-found the ‘Alliance to End Plastic Waste,’ a non-profit organization designed to tackle plastic waste levels in the ocean by investing $1.5 billion over the next five years into addressing the problem.
However, Carbios’ technology is a real step forward as it would allow to create a real circular economy for a series a plastic packaging. Other subscribers to the start-up’s capital increase include Copernicus AM, Michelin Ventures and Truffle Capital.