The New Plastics Economy (NPEC) is a three-year initiative aiming to build momentum toward a plastics system based on the "circular economy" principle. The central idea of the circular economy is to gather materials after they have been used and process them so they can be reintegrated into another production process – over and over again. This saves resources and reduces the environmental impact.
The NPEC is bringing key stakeholders together to rethink and redesign the future of plastics, starting with packaging. It is targeting a shift away from incremental improvements and fragmented initiatives, and moving toward a shared direction that delivers positive outcomes along the plastics value chain. The initiative is led by the Ellen MacArthur Foundation.
"Henkel is delighted to be part of the New Plastics Economy, and we're looking forward to working with partners to drive innovations that make a big impact," says Thorsten Leopold, head of International Packaging Development for Home Care products. "Our company is in a strong position to make a valuable contribution to the NPEC because of its unique business model: On the one hand, Henkel can contribute as a manufacturer of fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG), like laundry detergent, shampoo or glue sticks. However, the company is also a global leader in adhesives and other advanced technologies that are used for packaging applications. These range from glues that seal boxes or secure product labels, through to functional and protective coatings for plastic packaging, and adhesives that hold the different layers of flexible packaging together. Taken together, this means we're able to offer expertise from both perspectives, as an FMCG manufacturer and a supplier of adhesives and other technologies, which gives our teams a uniquely broad understanding of the challenges and possible solutions related to packaging."
Throughout its 140-year history, Henkel has leveraged its R&D to drive leadership in sustainability. Commitment to leadership in sustainability is anchored firmly in Henkel's corporate values. In line with this commitment, Henkel's teams of packaging developers continually create intelligent and resource-efficient packaging solutions by focusing on three principles: prevent, reduce, and reuse. This means producing less packaging and waste, developing better packaging and enabling a circular economy.
Henkel's innovations in sustainable packaging include the bottles for its premium brand Perwoll Wolle & Feines in Germany, which were manufactured with 15% recycled high-density polyethylene (HDPE) from post-consumer sources during a recent pilot project. Henkel's packaging experts were able to retain the luminous pink color of the Perwoll bottle without making any compromises on the performance or fragrance of the product. The company also collaborated with Ball Corporation, a manufacturer of metal packaging, including cans, to develop a technology enabling the use of up to 25% recycled aluminum in cans for the deodorant sprays from Henkel's Fa, Souplesse and Neutromed brands. The buckets for Henkel's Metylan wallpaper paste are another example: They are made of 50% recycled material and 50% waste from industrial production that is fed back into the process for manufacturing new buckets.
Participating in the NPEC forms part of Henkel's comprehensive strategy for sustainable packaging. This is built around a set of key targets for the year 2020:
- Reduce the weight of packaging measured against net sales to 20% (base year 2010).
- Increase the proportion of recycled PET (polyethylene terephthalate) in bottles to 33% in Europe, and the proportion of recycled aluminum in cans to 9%.
- Reach more than 300 million consumers through more targeted information on recycling.