The Body Shop is on track to source 500 metric tons of plastic gathered by waste pickers for packaging this year and has plans to purchase 600 metric tons more in 2021, according to CNBC. Now the beauty business wants their competitors to join in.
Last year the Body Shop, which is owned by Natura Group, formed a global partnership with Plastics For Change, agreeing to purchase 250 metric tons of Fair Trade-certified recycled plastic during the first year of the Community Trade Recycled Plastic program.
Jason Roberts, the Body Shop’s head of research and innovation packaging, spoke with Environment + Energy Leader last year about the company’s strategy. “Plastics for Change is an organization based in Bangalore, India, working with over 2,500 waste pickers,” he explained. “The waste pickers are identifying PET plastic bottles in their environment, collecting that resource, and preventing it from going into the landfills and oceans. We know the quality of plastic they sort on our behalf is good for the cosmetics industry.”
Clear PET has the advantage of being the easiest plastic to recycle worldwide, Roberts said.
As the Body Shop’s site notes, “After our plastic is collected and sorted in waste segregation centers, it is cleaned, compressed into bales, and transported to Europe where it is converted, rigorously cleaned, and sterilized. The resultant resin is tested to food grade standards and is then converted into granules and recycled back into our bottles.”
Mark Davis, international sourcing director at Natura Group for the Body Shop, recently told CNBC’s Lucy Handley that building up the plastic waste raw material supply chain to meet the company’s needs took five years. Next, the company would like to help scale up the waste picking industry as a whole. Davis said that the Body Shop has connected Plastics For Change with several of the beauty company’s competitors as well as Ikea, according to Handley.
“While sourcing initiatives like this are a positive option for businesses, raw materials suppliers ideally need to broaden their customer base to avoid becoming dependent on one buyer as demand for ingredients can vary,” Handley wrote.
In the future, the Body Shop’s website says that the company intends to buy more Community Trade recycled plastics from their partners so they can use it in additional product packaging.