Every day, each person in the world produces on average 1.2 kg of waste. Within this volume there is no lack of items that can be recycled. So, it should be easy to find raw materials that have been recycled, shouldn’t it? This is not exactly the case. In 2015, we decided to address this difficulty and started using recycled glass in the fragrance bottles of some of our lines – Ekos, Kaiak, Humor and Essencial.
Our original target with this measure was to achieve a proportion of around 20% recycled material in the composition of the packaging. The first obstacle was overcoming the prejudice against using recycled material in a premium item in the cosmetics industry. Because nobody in Brazil was doing this, there were no suppliers.
Among other benefits, breaking through this barrier would mean reducing greenhouse gas emissions into the atmosphere by more than 350 tons a year. If we were to buy virgin glass in the market, we would be responsible – even if indirectly – for emitting this amount of pollutants into the atmosphere. By opting for recycled glass, we guarantee equivalent quality while polluting less.
To care about the planet, our current ambition is to increase the percentage of recycled glass in our packs beyond 20%. This means using it in other products in our portfolio besides perfumery. Would you like to know more? Here are seven curious facts:
1.We use post-consumer recycled glass
When we say we use this material, we are not talking about glass that is recycled based on leftovers from process failures in the glassmaking industry. We are saying that our material effectively comes from products that have already been consumed.
2.Glass is the only material that is 100% recyclable
There are no limits to recycling this material. And when 1 kilogram of glass is recycled it yields exactly the same quantity of glass. Since glass takes 5 thousand years to decompose, reusing it is of key importance.
3. Not all recycled glass can be used in the cosmetics industry
Premium shards are necessary to use this material for perfumery bottles. This means it must be colourless, clean and free from impurities that could jeopardize the manufacturing process. None of these were available in the market.
4.Tests and more tests
Although we started using recycled glass in 2015, tests for us to obtain the ideal material started three years before this. We had to have many talks with our supplier before we could convince the company to try out a new ‘recipe’ for glass, using recycled shards.
5. Each glass has a different recipe
Glass consists of sand, lime, soda ash (sodium carbonate), alumina (aluminium oxide) and colouring or de-colouring agents. But each glass maker has its own recipe and – since this is an expensive and slow process – changing it is always a challenge.
6. Kilns for making glass look like a semi-Olympic swimming pool
With a production capacity that can reach 70 tons a day and operating at a temperature of 1.200˚ C, glass production kilns look like semi-Olympic swimming pools of volcano lava, which are never turned off.
7. Returnable soft-drink bottles: the ideal glass
Do you remember we mentioned the need for premium shards? Well the first source of material was, and still is, returnable soft drink bottles. In 2016, we started to receive part of the recycled glass from cooperatives. To assure the quality of bottles manufactured from more heterogeneous types of glass, we set up a rigorous approval process for these suppliers, addressing traceability, the legality of the operation and compliance with regulatory requirements.