Brazilian beauty company Natura, long known for its sustainability initiatives, has unveiled a selection of projects to come out of its innovation pipeline to combat plastic waste and pollution.
Launched last year, the Natura Innovation Challenge – Zero Waste Packaging initiative attracted more than 570 submissions from start-ups, researchers and universities across 35 countries. Natura is highlighting 38 of the solutions on a dedicated website, and is already testing three solutions within the company.
"It’s essential to share solutions to boost the visibility of the proposals received because they have great potential to have a position impact on the chain, as well as the businesses of other companies and other industries," comments Roseli Mello, Global Head of R&D at Natura &Co.
The proposals offer the potential to rethink packaging, logistics and business models with a view to eliminating waste. We’ve highlighted a few of these projects below.
• A project from Brazil’s Pontifícia University incorporates biomolecules during the manufacturing phase to make plastics biodegradable. A biodegradable nanoadditive based on commercial nanosilica was developed, allowing polyethylene packaging to biodegrade.
• Start-up Eco Panplas’ system separates oil from ground plastic and labels, without using water or generating waste, and at a cost that is 30% lower than the process involving water currently used by other companies. All residual oil is recovered by a closed circuit system, and is then sold to re-refining industries to be recycled or to be used to make new oil.
• IQX’s solution consists of a pair of additives, IQX FLEX and RAPTOR, capable of making different materials (polyamide/EVOH/polyethylene/polypropylene) compatible. This generates a recycled resin that can partially or totally replace virgin resin in the production of new packaging.
• Startup Entropic Solutions’ proposal aims to develop plastic packaging using biodegradable polymer (PBAT) and Kraft lignin. Lignin, a natural polymer (waste from the pulp and paper industry), can be incorporated into products with high added value (including in cosmetic formulations as an antioxidant), in addition to being low cost. Adding lignin to the PBAT biodegradable polymer will, beyond reusing a natural compostable waste, accelerate the degradation process of the material after disposal.
• Maria Luiza Cafalchio’s project aims to create a hydrophobic, resistant and biodegradable material as an alternative to plastic packaging. The multi-layer solution combines paper and biomaterials, like chitosan, and blends of natural waxes with antimicrobial essential oil.
• The Hydra.co project for freeze-dried cosmetics aims to transform liquid cosmetics products into a powder form, thus eliminating the need for plastic packaging (paper packaging can instead be used). The powdered Hydra.co cream, for example, simply requires the consumer to add water to use it.
• Shellworks Group makes packaging from seafood waste that can be composted at home. A biopolymer, chitin, is extracted to create packaging that degrades within four to six weeks; the material also becomes a fertilizer as it degrades.
• With the aim of manufacturing polymeric compounds from industrial waste associated with contaminated polymers, Ingá Tecsus devised a product from the solid waste generated in the flexographic industry. Its production process can absorb solid waste from industries including plastics and clothing, focusing on contaminated polymers or materials that are not currently recycled.
• Start-up Hongos del Valle’s proposal is based on creating biodegradable and compostable materials from fungi, combining the mycelium (the reticular structure of a fungus) with crop residue.