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.
- Since 2016, all our Beauty Care and Laundry & Home Care products have been free from microbeads - solid plastic particles five millimeters in size or smaller that were used as exfoliating or abrasive particles in some products.
- We have been working on opacifiers made from solid synthetic plastics. For our cosmetic products, the switch to opacifiers that have a natural origin or are biodegradable will be completed by the end of the first quarter of 2021.
- We also want to replace all perfume encapsulations with materials that are biodegradable by 2022 at the latest.
- We are striving for a circular economy to prevent improper disposal of our product packaging from contributing to the formation of microplastics.
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 free from microbeads.
As a second step, we have been dealing more closely with solid synthetic plastics. These plastics are used as opacifiers in consumer products to give them a creamy white appearance. We had set ourselves the goal of using only natural or biodegradable opacifiers in our consumer products worldwide by 2020. For our cosmetic products, the switch to opacifiers that have a natural origin or are biodegradable will be completed by the end of the first quarter of 2021. In our other consumer products, we continue to pursue the technical challenge of using only natural or biodegradable opacifiers and eliminating solid synthetic plastics as soon as a suitable alternative is available for this purpose.
There are also certain types of perfume encapsulation that 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 circular economy for plastics. We will continue to increase the recyclability of our packaging, while also increasing the percentage of recycled material in our packaging.