Use of recycled plastic for cosmetic packaging

A new project has investigated whether plastic collected from households or the oceans can be recycled for cosmetic packaging. The new knowledge will contribute to a safety guide for the cosmetics industry on the use of recycled plastic.

DHI has participated in the project, in which the possibilities and risks of using post-consumer recycled plastic (PCR plastic) have been investigated. PCR plastic is plastic that has been used for a specific purpose and then discarded. It can be plastic from consumer collecting schemes or plastic collected from the sea.

The PCR plastic was mainly collected from households, but a few samples from fishing equipment and plastic waste from oceans and beaches from the EU and countries outside the EU were also examined. As the collected PCR plastics may have been used for many applications and may release an infinite number of substances, there is a risk of migration to the cosmetic product from the recycled packaging.

Recycling depends on the product contents
The toxicological safety assessments and examples of exposure scenarios prepared by DHI indicate that PCR plastics may be reusable as packaging for certain types of cosmetic products. This is especially true for products such as shampoos and soaps that are rinsed off after use. This means that users are not exposed in the same way to substances from the recycled PCR plastic compared with products that are left on the skin for longer periods of time, such as body lotions or creams.

The exposure scenarios from the project are expected to be used in a future safety guide for cosmetic packaging.

Some of the results of the project Initial safety assessment of recycled plastic for packaging of cosmetic products were presented at the international Eurotox 2021 Congress at the end of September.

The project was prepared for the Danish Environmental Protection Agency in collaboration with the Danish Technological Institute. You can find out more from senior toxicologist Helle Buchardt Boyd, who contributed to the report.

Helle Buchardt Boyd
Tel +45 4516 9097