Carbios and L’Oréal have won a Pioneer Award for what the companies say is the ‘world’s first’ fully enzymatically recycled plastic cosmetic bottle.

This prize was awarded to Carbios at the World Alliance Summit for developing its enzymatic PET recycling solution, and to L’Oréal for using the technology for the first time in a cosmetics bottle prototype.

Emmanuel Ladent, Chief Executive Officer of Carbios, says: “We are very proud that Carbios’ biorecycling technology has been recognized as a pioneering solution. The success of our industrialization depends in part on our ability to forge strategic partnerships, such as the close collaboration we have built up with L’Oréal over the last few years.

Jacques Playe, Director of Development and Packaging at L’Oréal, adds: “We are delighted with this recognition, which highlights our partnership with Carbios. We are convinced that it is by combining the best of innovation, such as the technology developed by Carbios, with the power of industry, that we can develop a more circular economy and encourage other companies to adopt a similar approach.”

Since 2017, Carbios and L’Oréal have been working together on projects that aim to promote sustainable packaging. In 2017, both companies created a Consortium to improve the recyclability and circularity of PET packaging. Nestlé Waters, PepsiCo and Suntory Beverage & Food Europe joined this Consortium in 2019 to scale up Carbios’ innovation.

The ‘world’s first’ enzymatically recycled PET packaging was made in 2021 using Carbios’ biorecycling process. The world’s first PET biorecycling plant is scheduled to be commissioned in 2025. In parallel, Carbios is rolling out its technology internationally through licensing agreements.

According to Carbios, Recent life-cycle analyses show a 57% reduction in CO2 emissions compared with the production of virgin plastic, and for every tonne of recycled PET produced, 1.3 tonnes of petrol are avoided. Compared with conventional recycling, enzymatic recycling is reportedly “four times more circular” (a figure the company says is calculated according to the Ellen MacArthur Foundation’s Material Circularity Indicator).

The company claims that a highly selective enzyme, optimized for efficient PET degradation, can process all types of PET waste, including colored, multilayer or textile waste that cannot be recycled using current technologies. Furthermore, Carbios says that the two monomers produced (PTA and MEG) make it possible to recreate recycled PET products of “identical quality” to virgin ones, and suitable for food contact.

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