Biotherm’s partnership with Carbios can enable infinite recycling of beauty packaging
”It’s 2022, why is not everything made of recycled plastic yet?” international sustainability director Dania Blin asks in our conversation — while sharing the latest on recycling, biotech, and material innovations.
By JOHAN MAGNUSSON
July 05, 2022
For the past ten years, Biotherm has been dedicated to Blue Beauty — the global movement focusing on the relationship between the beauty industry and our oceans. The company supports NGOs, creates more formulations that respect the ocean, and has even launched a commitment to become Ocean Positive — striving to have a positive impact on the oceans — by 2030. It has even opened its own permanent lab inside the Oceanographic Institute in Monaco and just like in the factory, located around two hours outside of Paris, the focus is on biotech, innovation — and biofermentation.
— It’s a 100% sustainable and renewable way of producing LifePlankton (Biotherm’s regenerating key ingredient, a probiotic extract that delivers hydration, Ed’s note), Blin explains. It’s a natural process that took our scientists several years to develop, where we reproduce the LifePlankton before it’s harvested in the factory and we use biotech instead of taking things from the water.
Is biofermentation a good example of how you will work in the future?
— It’s a very good example — especially for our LifePlankton which we use everywhere to not have to take it from nature every time — and we like innovation, biotech, and new technologies, and working with startups like Carbios.
Yes, can you explain more about the partnership with Carbios?
— It’s a startup that’s created a new way of recycling PET plastic. There are different types of plastics and enzymes biologically digest the plastic into blocks, like Lego, of which you can rebuild PET plastic where the quality is like virgin-like plastic. Normally, when you recycle plastic, it’s a mechanical process where you break it into small parts which you can only do three or four times until the quality is not there anymore. Carbiose’s technology allows you to do recycling infinitely — and you can even use plastics from other sources than plastic bottles. So, in the future, it can be from, for instance, textile. It opens up new ways and accelerates the recycling process that today is very segmented into different streams and will break barriers and accelerate things.
Last fall, you presented a pilot together. Going forward, can you share any timeline on how the partnership will proceed?
— Not yet, since everything is under construction, but, last year, we created a small quantity of our Sun Milk bottles out of the material and now, we are working together to create a bigger quantity and take it out in the world, says Blin.
In the Nordics, we use a lot of wood from our wide forests. You mentioned textile, can you also mix it with wood?
— That’s a very interesting question. What I can say is that last year, we introduced packaging using sustainable paper and more than 40% less plastic and we now work with our engineers to increase the amount of paper used in it.
Just a few years ago, it was hard to even find bottles made of 100% recycled plastic.
— Now it’s getting better but some sources of recycled plastics are harder to find than others. You have the PET, the PP, and the PPT, with the PP (Polypropylene) being the hardest one. You may ask: it’s 2022, why is not everything made of recycled plastic yet? And for me, the sources and the quality are not good enough, and we need to do a lot of tests to make sure that it’s solid enough. So, it’s a balance — you need to find something that is still pleasurable, nice, high-quality, and at the same time respectful.
We hear more and more discussions about a product’s lifecycle, how do you work with that?
— We have experts calculating the lifecycle of the product where everything is taken into account — from sourcing to industrialization, to transport, to end of life — in order to reduce our emissions. Other experts who work with us, look at the entire carbon footprint of the brand each year and can tell us what parts are responsible for the most carbon which allows us to have a priority, says Blin.
And, for the industry, in order to reduce its emissions, what are the most crucial actions to take?
— It’s important to talk about that because, as a brand, we’re not alone. It’s not only about our products or our brands but also other partners we work with B2B, who help us with ingredients, the sourcing, and the packaging materials, to make sure that the whole lifecycle gets better. For the packaging, we have seen an acceleration for the last few years, thanks to the consumers saying how much it means to them as well as the environmental emergency that we see — and thanks to governments putting new laws and regulations that can help the acceleration in the industry.
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