How L'Oreal made packaging using recycled carbon emissions

L’Oreal has produced plastic cosmetic bottles using captured carbon with the aim to “make single-use carbon a thing of the past”. 

The firm partnered with Total and LanzaTech on a pilot project to produce what it claims is the “world’s first sustainable packaging made from captured and recycled carbon emissions”. 

A three-step process was developed to enable the biological conversion of waste carbon emissions to polyethylene “to produce packaging with the same quality and properties as conventional polyethylene”, said L’Oreal.

“A few bottles have been produced in our labs as part of the pilot project, so as to ensure that the technology is ready. Now that the proof of concept has been successfully demonstrated, we will be working on an industrial scale project with the ambition to be operational by 2024,” the firm told SM.

The process involves changing emissions to ethanol, then to ethylene through a dehydration process, before polymerising it into polyethylene – one of the most common man-made plastics used in packaging.

LanzaTech captured and re-used carbon emissions at its facilities in China for the early stages of the process, and it plans to build a facility in Europe for the industrialisation of the process.

L'Oreal told SM: “As a major innovation for more responsible and sustainable packaging, it will be available to other companies who would like to work with us to reduce the environmental impact of their packaging.”

Jacques Playe, packaging and development director at L’Oréal, said: “L’Oréal is constantly improving the environmental footprint of its packaging. With this innovation converting carbon emissions into polyethylene, we aim to develop new sustainable packaging solutions. 

“We have the ambition to use this sustainable material in our bottles of shampoo and conditioner by 2024 and we hope other companies will join us in using this breakthrough innovation.”

Valérie Goff, senior VP of polymers at Total, commented: “This partnership is an excellent example of collaboration between industrial firms in developing the plastics of the future produced from recycled carbon and meets a strong demand from our customers.

“The development of this new pathway of valuing industrial carbon emissions also contributes to the group's commitment to get to net zero in Europe by 2050.”

LanzaTech CEO Jennifer Holmgren said: “Together, we can reduce the carbon footprint of packaging by converting carbon emissions into useful products, making single-use carbon a thing of the past.”

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