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Microplastics

We are committed to ensuring that our consumer products do not cause any microplastics to enter the environment.

We are committed to ensuring that our consumer products do not cause any microplastics to enter the environment. We understand microplastics to refer to solid, insoluble plastic particles that are five millimeters or smaller and are not biodegradable. These can enter rivers and oceans via wastewater and accumulate there permanently.

As a first step, we have stopped using microbeads in our consumer products. These materials were previously contained in individual products as exfoliating or abrasive particles. We launched this initiative in 2014 for our new Beauty Care products in Europe and implemented it worldwide in 2016. All of our Beauty Care and Laundry & Home Care products are now free from microbeads.

In a second step, we have already started eliminating opacifiers made from solid synthetic plastics from our consumer products. Opacifiers give products a creamy white appearance. From 2020 onwards, we will only use natural or biodegradable opacifiers in our consumer products worldwide.

There are also certain types of perfume encapsulation which are discussed as microplastics. These encapsulated perfume oils are used in fabric softeners and certain detergents to create long-lasting fragrances with less perfume. So they make an important contribution to sustainability because the quantities of perfume that would otherwise be required are significantly reduced. We are already working together with our technology partners to replace all synthetic perfume encapsulations with biodegradable materials by 2022 at the latest.

We have already achieved success in using soluble, biodegradable materials for encapsulation in other areas. For example, in the shells of our pre-dosed liquid detergent capsules and dishwasher detergent tabs, which consist of soluble polyvinyl alcohol foil.

To prevent improper disposal of our plastic product packaging from contributing to ocean pollution, we are striving for a closed-loop economy for plastics that is similar to existing systems for paper and waste paper. We will continue to increase the recyclability of our packaging, while also increasing the percentage of recycled material in our packaging. Furthermore, Henkel is actively engaged in several initiatives aiming to drive progress toward a circular economy. Henkel is also working on materials that allow packaging to be returned to nature – such as biodegradable materials that meet international composting standards.