BY KATIE - MYGREENPOD, 24 May '19

Campaigners and business to unite to demand government and industry speed up pace of change

While plastic has been under a lot of fire lately, sometimes it’s the most environmentally friendly option for packaging. The problem is not plastic – it’s what we do with it.

The UK lacks a harmonised recycling service, meaning that facilities vary from region to region. Some county council kerbside collection schemes don’t accept certain mixed plastics, making it more difficult for us to treat plastic as the valuable material it really is.

The problem with plastics

There are more than 50 different types of plastic available, making it more difficult to sort and reprocess than other materials. Nearly all can be recycled, depending on whether the technology to sort and process is available where you live. Packaging that consists of more than one polymer type makes it more difficult – and therefore more expensive – to recycle.

Some plastics that are technically recyclable are sent to landfill for the unacceptable reason that sorting machinery and recycling facilities vary from county to county.

To combat regional recycling differences, Weleda has teamed up with recycling experts TerraCycle to ensure that all Weleda packaging can be recycled in the UK, wherever you live and irrespective of your local council’s attitude to plastic.

Weleda’s soft touch tubes are made from a partially recycled mixed plastic, which is mainly 50% recycled HDPE (high density polyethylene).

To avoid any of Weleda’s recyclable plastic going to landfill, the clean beauty pioneer has teamed up with TerraCycle.

Until the UK’s recycling facilities match those elsewhere in Europe, customers who can’t recycle some Weleda tubes locally can return their empties to their local Weleda Wellbeing Advisor or collection point. TerraCycle will award points for the waste collected, which can then be redeemed for a charitable donation to schools, charities and non-profit organisations. Downstream, the recycled plastics are made into new products such as garden furniture.

Penguin conservation

The upside to working with TerraCycle is that Weleda will raise funds for The Global Penguin Society (GPS), which is protecting penguins around the world. Their plight has been shared through Sir David Attenborough’s stunning series Dynasties.

Every 10kg of Weleda packaging recycled with TerraCycle in 2019 will raise nearly £10 for the GPS, which was founded in 2009 by marine biologist Dr Pablo Borboroglu, from Argentina.

The GPS is the world’s first coalition for the protection of penguins. It combines science, management and education to protect penguins across the Southern Hemisphere and use them as a flagship for wider conservation of the marine environment.

Over half of the world’s 18 species of penguin are listed as Vulnerable or Endangered by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature. Threatened by poor fisheries management, pollution and climate change, penguins also face pressure on land from coastal development, irresponsible tourism and introduced predators.

Pablo is spearheading large-scale action to address these threats, balancing local guardianship with strengthening national and international protection. Over the past 29 years, the work of the GPS has brought together over 125 organisations and benefited 1.2 million penguins in four continents. Their data are helping to justify ocean protection and underpin management for penguins and other marine wildlife. 

‘For me penguins represent the magnificence of wildlife, but at the same time its fragility. Penguins are perfect indicators of the health of the oceans. The wellbeing of our planet depends on the condition of our seas, however only 2% of our oceans are strictly protected. Pollution is one of the main threats.

‘A long time ago we fell in love with single-use plastics and did not worry about the consequences. Pollution is a critical issue now. Every year, nine million tons of plastic ends up in the ocean, and there it can be lethal. 700 marine species have been reported to have eaten or been entangled in plastics. There are reports of some species of penguins trying to eat plastics when feeding in the ocean. We ourselves have found penguins almost strangled with the handle of plastic bags and in one case we found one penguin with a plastic bottle around its neck. It is not unusual to find different kinds of plastics in their nests. Every single one of us can play a part by making small changes to our daily lives.’

DR PABLO BORBOROGLU
Founder, The Global Penguin Society

Sustainable packaging

Weleda is working hard behind the scenes to make the recyclable packaging even more sustainable, with less waste and more recycled materials for packaging.

Weleda’s recyclable glass bottles are made from 85% recycled glass (the highest % possible). Weleda’s ‘soft touch’ HDPE plastic tubes are made from 50% PCR (post consumer waste). Weleda’s recyclable cartons are printed using mineral-oil free colour inks on 100% FSC certified card. All Weleda’s outer packing boxes are made from 100% recycled board.

Four tonnes of material were saved in 2017 by optimising the weight of the screw caps for Weleda’s recyclable aluminium tubes, and Weleda has also recently reduced the amount of aluminium used in packaging.

the clean beauty pioneer has introduced ABL (Aluminium Barrier Laminate) tubes for some new-launch products, a material which uses less aluminium. New packaging is currently in design using 70% recycled plastic.

As detailed in Weleda’s annual Sustainability report, packaging intensity (the weight of packaging in proportion to the weight of the finished product) improved by 3.8% with the amount of recycled materials increasing by 3%.

For a company that has had sustainability at its heart since it was first founded in 1921, it is good to know that Weleda is still making every effort to reduce its carbon footprint. The company is working towards a sustainability goal for 2018-2022 that 65% of the weight of all primary packaging produced must come from bioplastics or recycled plastic sources.