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August 20, 2018 - Recycling Today

APR Member Highlight: Unilever

Embracing the beauty of imperfection

It is unusual for beauty brands to promote anything other than perfection. But, when it comes to Unilever’s Love Beauty and Planet brand, it is proud of the imperfect nature of its polyethylene terephthalate (PET) bottles, which are made from 100 percent recycled material.

This attitude is in keeping with the vegan beauty brand’s overall mission, which is “to make you more beautiful and give a little love to our planet.” On its website, the brand further explains its objective: “We want to help make a little difference towards a happier, less wasteful planet with every shower. Our approach is a holistic one, encompassing the entire product life cycle and beyond. We’ve given careful thought to our ingredients, product packaging and social partnerships. We call it our passionate journey of #smallactsoflove, and we’re just getting started.”

The people behind Love Beauty and Planet also acknowledge that they don’t have an easy task ahead of them, adding, “we won’t always get it right the first time. There will be mistakes. There will be failures. But, for us, purity of intent is bigger than perfection.”

EMBRACING CIRCULARITY ONE STEP AT A TIME
Molly Landman, global brand director for Love Beauty and Planet at Unilever, with U.S. headquarters in Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey, explains why the brand is prioritizing recycled content in its packaging. “It was important for us to use 100 percent recycled plastic to create our bottles because we want to move towards a more circular economy, designing products so that more packaging is utilized beyond its first life cycle,” she says. “Every one of our bottles is made from 100 percent recycled plastic.”

Landman says insisting on 100 percent recycled content increased the technical challenges the brand encountered. “We had to ensure the bottle met our high standard of functional performance. Recycled PET has a greater level of variability than virgin resin, and therefore we had to ensure this variability did not impact the final packaging quality.”

She adds that while Love Beauty and Planet did not compromise on functional performance, the brand chose to embrace variations in color and transparency. “We realized that just because the bottle isn’t as perfectly transparent as virgin PET it doesn’t mean it isn’t as beautiful or unique.”

Landman acknowledges that Love Beauty and Planet has more work to do in the area of incorporating recycled content into its packaging. “Our caps and pumps aren’t there yet, but we’re working on it.”

She continues, “To have the right quality is critical as the caps contain some moving parts, which are potentially brittle.”

It’s a challenge that Love Beauty and Planet seems interested in addressing head-on as the brand has committed to producing a lightweight cap that contains a minimum of 50 percent recycled content by 2020, Landman says.

“One of the biggest opportunities is to leverage the growing supply of recycled polypropylene (PP) in the marketplace,” she says. “PP is a very recyclable material, which had historically not been collected. We see this changing and recycled PP becoming an increasingly valuable resin.”

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