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P&G launches Head & Shoulders bottle made from beached plastic waste

Consumer goods company Procter & Gamble (P&G) has announced it is producing a limited run of recyclable shampoo bottles made from recycled beach plastic in what it says is ‘the first major step’ in establishing a supply chain taking in plastic waste collected from beaches by charities.

P&G launches Head & Shoulders bottle made from beached plastic waste
The company announced the new Head & Shoulders bottle, which will contain ‘up to 25 per cent’ beach plastic, last week (19 January) at the World Economic Forum in Davos, in partnership with specialist recycling company TerraCycle and waste management firm SUEZ, who joined forces last year to develop recycling programmes.

The bottles will be produced as a limited edition, sold in supermarket Carrefour. At the same time as announcing this product, though, P&G also announced that, by the end of 2018, more than half a billion of the bottles it produces every year, representing more than 90 per cent of all of the hair care bottles sold in Europe through P&G’s hair brands, will be made with ‘up to 25 per cent’ post-consumer recycled plastic (though it will not collected from beaches in this instance).

The company, which set a corporate goal of doubling the tonnage of post-consumer recycled plastic used in packaging by 2020, says that the project will use around 2,600 tonnes of recycled plastic every year, enough to completely fill eight Boeing 747s.

‘The start of an important journey’

Around 12 million tonnes of plastic enters the marine environment every year, according to research by Eunomia Research & Consulting, 80 per cent of which comes from land-based sources. Studies have suggested that this plastic damages ecosystems, even making fish addicted to eating plastic in preference to their natural prey, and can make its way up the food web to human consumers.

Much of the plastic also washes up on beaches, affecting wildlife and coastal communities. By demonstrating a use for this plastic, the partnership hopes to incentivise its clean up and productive recovery.

Tom Szaky, CEO of TerraCycle, said: “Creating the world’s first recyclable shampoo bottle with beach plastics is a start of an important journey. With the circular economy gaining more traction, we hope that other global brands will work with green suppliers and use their influence to drive change for the benefit of the environment.”

Virginie Helias, Vice President of Global Sustainability at P&G, added: “At P&G, we believe that actions speak louder than words. The increased use of PCR plastic across our hair care portfolio of brands, demonstrate our continued commitment to driving real change.

“Increasing the use of recycled plastic in the packaging of our flagship brands, like Pantene and Head & Shoulders, makes it easier for consumers to choose more sustainable products, without any trade-offs. So while we’re proud of what we’ve done and what we’re doing, we know there is much more work ahead.”

Need to move past novelty products

With the focus on ocean plastics growing, a number of producers have launched one-off products, but few that have translated into permanent production models, and it is unclear whether this partnership will continue to produce the bottles containing beach plastic beyond the initial run.

Adidas, for example, has partnered with charity Parley for the Oceans to manufacture a set of running shoes as well as kits for football clubs Bayern Munich and Real Madrid that each side wore for one game.

For the last issue of Resource, we looked at six companies that were making the most of plastic recovered from the oceans.

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