Our partnership with Plastic Bank

Plastic waste is one of the biggest global challenges. As part of Henkel’s ambitious packaging targets for 2025, the company wants to promote a circular economy and contribute to avoiding plastic waste being disposed in the environment. Therefore, Henkel is supporting waste collection and recycling initiatives and investing in innovative solutions and technologies to promote closed-loop recycling.

In 2017, Henkel became the first major global consumer goods company to work with the social enterprise Plastic Bank. Together, we are addressing both environmental and social challenges to reduce plastic waste.

“Plastic waste ending in the environment is one of the greatest global challenges. The search for solutions is well underway, and our packaging experts are working intensively to deliver on our ambitious targets,” says Sylvie Nicol, Executive Vice President Human Resources at Henkel and Chair of Henkel’s Sustainability Council. “To drive further progress and promote a circular economy, we are working closely together with our partners along the entire value chain.”

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Sylvie Nicol

Plastic waste ending in the environment is one of the greatest global challenges. The search for solutions is well underway, and our packaging experts are working intensively to deliver on our ambitious targets.”

Turning waste into opportunities - Who is Plastic Bank?

Plastic Bank is a social enterprise that is helping the world stop ocean plastic while improving the lives of collector communities. Founder and CEO, David Katz, discovered plastic bags, bottles and straws while scuba diving and was inspired to take action. In 2013, together with Shaun Frankson, he founded the company. Plastic Bank builds ethical recycling ecosystems in coastal communities, and reprocesses the materials for reintroduction into the global manufacturing supply chain.

Henkel started working with Plastic Bank in 2017, and it was the first major global consumer goods company to partner with the company. Plastic Bank establishes waste collection branches in countries that lack adequate waste management infrastructure – like Haiti. Collectors receive a premium for the materials they collect which helps them provide basic family necessities such as groceries, cooking fuel, school tuition, and health insurance. Plastic Bank is revealing the value in plastic waste – and stopping it before it reaches waterways and oceans.

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What happens with the collected plastic waste?

The plastic that is collected at the collection centers is sorted and can subsequently be reintroduced into the recycling value chain as Social Plastic®. Social Plastic® has been verified by Plastic Bank to indicate that the collectors received an above-market price for the plastic waste. This can enable single mothers, for example, to support their families and pay for their children to attend school. Social Plastic® can be used in products or packaging, contributing to a closed loop material cycle.

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How does Henkel use this Social Plastic?

Henkel has processed more than 760 metric tons of Social Plastic® since the partnership began in 2017 and successfully incorporated it into some of its product packaging. In October 2018, the first Henkel packaging that contains Social Plastic® was made available. Since then, Henkel launched a range of cosmetic products, laundry detergents and household cleaners with packaging comprising up to 98 percent Social Plastic®. 

PET bottle bodies for the Pro Nature detergents from the Biff, Pril and Sidolin brands, as well as the bottle bodies for the fabric softener Vernel Fresh Control are made of 100 percent recycled plastic, 50 percent of which is Social Plastic®. 

In Henkel Consumer Brands, the relaunch of our Nature Box brand is also supporting further steps in Henkel’s collaboration with Plastic Bank. Nature Box is the first beauty brand to introduce Social Plastic® as a packaging material for its complete bottle portfolio, and all Nature Box bottle bodies are made of 98 percent Social Plastic®.

In addition, the Fa brand launched the Beach Love limited edition, with product bottles made from 98 percent recycled plastic collected from beaches and the countryside. The QR code on the back of the bottle could be used to get more information about the work of Plastic Bank. In 2020, Henkel Consumer Brands also launched a limited edition of Schauma Meerestraum. The bottle bodies for these two liquid shampoos were made from 96 percent recycled plastic, half of which was Social Plastic®.

What next?

Haiti was just the beginning. In 2019, Henkel took the next step in its partnership with Plastic Bank and extended the collaboration for another five years. Henkel supports ongoing projects in Haiti, the Philippines and Indonesia. Additionally, the company began to establish a new recycling infrastructure in Egypt in March 2021. Working together, Henkel and Plastic Bank aim to reach a yearly collection capacity of 5,000 tons of plastic waste in 2023. In Egypt alone, Henkel and Plastic Bank aim to create 1,000 jobs over a two-year period which will directly impact over 4,000 Egyptian citizens through the establishment of a long-term recycling infrastructure.

Since the partnership began, Henkel and Plastic Bank have opened branches in Haiti and Egypt. In addition, Henkel helped Plastic Bank set up a supply chain that ensures that the collected plastic waste can be processed and recycled, so that it can ultimately be reintegrated into the value chain. We are planning to launch further product packaging with Social Plastic® and to integrate this material into the packaging of more of our core brands. 

Through the partnership with Plastic Bank, we are empowering a regenerative society. 

More information can be found at www.henkel.com/plastic