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Pact: a beauty industry collective for hard-to-recycle plastic packs

Katie Nichol

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Pact: a beauty industry collective for hard-to-recycle plastic packs

© Credo Beauty Pact Collective

A handful of North American beauty companies across the supply chain have joined forces to address the problem of small plastic packaging by boosting its recycling rate. Pact, a non-profit collective, has launched with founding members Credo Beauty, Hudson’s Bay, Element Packaging and MOB Beauty, and will open its doors to other members later this year.

Bringing together three parts of the supply chain in an effort to create solutions of circularity and reduce waste, newly launched initiative Pact is looking to tackle hard-to-recycle beauty packaging components – those that are small, use mixed materials, or flexible materials such squeezable tubes or refill pouches.

Retailers Credo Beauty and Hudson’s Bay, along with supplier Element Packaging and make-up brand MOB Beauty are the founding members of the program. They have contributed start-up capital and also sit on the collective’s board. “Pact will bring much-needed inclusivity and transparency to beauty packaging — from design to end-of-life,” Victor Casale, Co-founder and CEO of MOB Beauty said in a statement.

Recycling bins have been implemented at all 10 Credo Beauty stores in the US and at 20 Hudson’s Bay stores in Canada – Hudson’s Bay is planning a roll-out to all 87 of its stores through 2021. The bins are designed to receive cosmetics packs that cannot, or are unlikely to be, recycled in traditional curbside recycling programs, including pumps, caps, plastic tubes, lipsticks, lip pencils, mascara tubes, metal packs, colored glass bottles & jars and small jars & plastic bottles.

The empty containers are collected and sorted at Pact’s recycling facility then sold to recyclers in the US. The recycling partners, including New York’s Reverse Logistics, sort the material by hand and break it apart if needed. The sorted material is then processed and cleaned, and sold on to buyers in the US or Canada.

Once the program scales, Pact plans to sell back resins to beauty packaging manufacturers. The collective says that it only downcycles or incinerates materials when there is no better alternative, and is aiming for less than 2% of the packages collected to go to “waste-to-energy.”

Pact is opening its doors to other members starting this fall. The aim is to build a cross industry collective that includes packaging suppliers, brands, private-label manufacturers and retail partners, Casale explains. In addition, the organization is currently piloting a mail-in program to widen the reach of its recycling initiative. According to the collective, an estimated 120 billion cosmetic packages are made annually, only a fraction of which are refillable or reusable.

“As a packaging company, we have a big role to play in creating more sustainable options for the beauty industry by selecting materials and designing packs that are most likely to be recycled by the greatest number of consumers,” adds Ulrich Lerissel, Co-Founder of Element Packaging. The supplier, which sells packaging to Credo Beauty and MOB Beauty, will be involved in the recycling of the packaging that Pact collects.  

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