What are the latest trends in post-consumer recycled products?

May 14, 2019

Aveda was the first beauty company to use 100% post-consumer recycled (PCR) PET, and today more than 85% of their packaging portfolio contains 100% PCR. To make this vision a reality, they adjusted the aesthetics of their packaging and successfully communicated those changes to their customers. Aveda has proven that using PCR does not mean compromising your brand or your customer’s expectations. Join Edmond Irizarry, executive director of packaging development at Aveda, and hear their inspirational story at this year’s Re|focus Sustainability & Recycling Summit. See for yourself the new heights that can be achieved in sustainability when companies dare to think outside the box.

  1. What do you think is the biggest challenge facing sustainability in the plastics industry today? 
    • ​​​​​​​For sustainable materials, we need new streams and technologies to drive new benefits. Color consistency is a big one for us because current PCR streams (PP for example) limit our ability to do light and/or translucent colors. In other instances, this is critical for when your packaging is produced within multiple regions as color variation on PCR streams could lead to inconsistencies on the shelf. 
    • For converters, we need to correct the misconception that PCR is trash and that there will always be quality issues when using it because–let’s admit it–we need to think of PCR as a new material. It won’t be something plug-and-play that you can load into your silos and/or presses and expect to run without putting the time and effort to understand their melt flow and processing characteristics and adjusting your process to meet them. 
    • For brands, we need to be more consistent in the way that we communicate what is sustainable vs. recyclable and exactly how to recycle it. There is a lot of confusion in the industry right now and, as people become more aware of the impact plastic has on the earth, they need to understand exactly what to do with it in order for it to have a second life. Brands should be wary of how they try to capitalize on the sustainable packaging trend to ensure that they are not overlooking the importance of educating consumers on what to do with their used materials. 
    • For consumers, we need to continue to educate them and incentivize them to join the war on plastics, and to lobby their local legislators to help close the loop with plastic collection. 
  2. What will it take to overcome it?
    • ​​​​​​​​​​​​​​We need an industry-wide collaboration to close the loop. The easiest way to make a change is if we are all in this together. 
  3. What are the latest trends and/or innovations that you’ve seen as they pertain to post-consumer recycled products?
    • One of the most interesting new innovations is chemical recycling, which will allow for new streams of materials to be used in the industry. I am also a big fan of Bio-Plastics, which create new streams and opportunities in areas that were never possible with recycled plastics. 
  4. What about Re|focus are you most excited about?
    • I am looking forward to developing new partnerships that will allow Aveda to accelerate our commitments of eradicating the use of virgin-petro-based plastic sources.
  5. Is there anything else you’d like to add about your presentation?
    • I am excited to share how sustainable packaging can be both authentic and aspirational from a design POV. It’s one of the things that keeps companies from moving toward sustainable materials. But this simple step can have a drastic impact on the entire industry…and the world! 

To learn more about the 2019 Re|focus Sustainability & Recycling Summit and to register, visit refocussummit.org