We are committed to removing or reducing plastic packaging wherever possible and investing in research into alternative materials that can replace its use.
Where we will continue to use plastic in packaging we will ensure that at least 25 per cent of its content is recycled plastic by 2025, where possible or allowed by regulators.
By 2025, 100 per cent of our plastic packaging will also be recyclable or reusable, with best-in-class labeling to help consumers recycle effectively.
We will work with peers and governments to enable products in our health portfolio to meet these targets without compromising their safety and efficacy for patients and consumers.
RB has long been aware of the positive and negative aspects of plastic packaging. We have always seen plastic as a valuable resource to be used like any other – efficiently and effectively.
As a company, we try to reduce our packaging as much as possible, eliminating waste wherever we can through innovation. Since 2003 we have been working to make our trigger sprays more environmentally friendly, including the removal of all metal. This year we have gone further and adopted a smaller design for triggers which will cut plastic use by 570 tons a year. By the end of 2019, all but one of our triggers will be 100 per cent recyclable. Last year we achieved our target of sending zero waste to landfill from our factories. But we recognise we need to do more.
Responsible plastic use is not just about keeping it to the minimum and replacing its use where possible – it’s about ensuring that we reuse and recycle as much as possible too. Plastic provides the best solution in terms of safety, cost and carbon footprint for many products but its post-sale life must be thoughtfully addressed. Where it can be replaced effectively, it should be.
We will continue to find replacement materials where suitable, investing in research into new innovative packaging formats and technologies such as plastic replacement foaming technology, working closely with our supply chain.
Our teams are focusing on driving tangible transformation and innovation at an accelerated pace to radically change how we use plastic and deliver products to our consumers.
The medicines, self-care medical devices and food supplements sectors are highly regulated and the use of plastics in packaging and manufacturing is driven by the need to offer safe and effective products to patients and consumers. For instance, replacing in medicine blister packs for over-the-counter medicines with a safe and affordable alternative is difficult and needs to go through stringent safety, stability regulatory and approval checks. We are currently reviewing the packaging of our entire health portfolio’s product range to see how plastic use can be reduced and what the viable alternatives are.
For RB, peers in the industry, our retail partners, as well as the various regulatory bodies globally, patient safety is paramount. We are also collaborating closely with industry associations within the health space as well as our retail partners to address the required changes in regulatory and approval frameworks that will facilitate a reduction in plastics in this portion of our portfolio too.
The idea of creating a more ‘circular or closed-looped economy’ where the use of plastic is designed with the ease of recycling and reuse in mind, is central to responsible plastic use. While recycling facilities and services are widespread in some countries, they remain insufficient for the scale of the task. We are committed to improving this infrastructure and ensuring that not only is our packaging as recyclable as possible but that it is effectively sorted and collected. We will continue to share knowledge on how best to recycle and reuse packaging.
We are already working with leading campaigners How2Recycle® (how2recycle.info) in the US and have started collaborating with the internationally-recognized On Pack Recycling Label organisation in the UK to ensure our labels present clear instructions and guidelines.
Alone, RB will never solve the global plastics challenge. The solution demands global co-ordination, with multi-lateral collaboration and joint ventures. This means working with third parties – including not-for-profit organisations, governments, local authorities and communities, industry associations, waste management specialists, suppliers, retailers, consumers or our peers. We’ve been forging effective relationships across all these groups for some time now. It’s important that we continue to build on this success, to affect real change in to create a circular system for plastic.
RB is proud to be part of the global New Plastics Economy initiative, led by the Ellen MacArthur Foundation. Based on the principles of the circular economy, this moves away from the current model of “take, make, dispose” and brings partners together from all areas of the plastics industry to envisage new ways in which materials can be designed, while also meeting consumer needs. As part of the collaboration, RB has become a signatory of the Global Commitment. It unites over 400 businesses, governments, and other organisations from around the world behind a common vision and a set of 2025 targets to address the problem at its source. The first report was published in March 2019 and offers a new level of transparency about today’s plastic system – revealing initial steps by Global Commitment signatories to eliminate plastics waste and pollution.
We are also a member of The UK Plastics Pact, led by WRAP. This network brings together key UK stakeholders and is creating a system in which plastics are designed to stay in the economy, rather than become waste or environmental pollutants.
In the UK we have also embarked on a new partnership with TerraCycle®, the global leader in recycling hard-to-recycle materials. The programme enables consumers to recycle the flexible plastic packaging used in some of our products. Consumers can either drop off their waste at one of the public drop-off locations (more will be added over time) or either sign up as private collector at www.terracycle.co.uk/rb. RB products that can be recycled in this programme include: Air Wick® fragrance twin pack plastic sleeves, Vanish® stain remover powder doypacks and Finish® dishwashing tablets doypacks. The programme will be extended to include other products over time.
Although this partnership with Terracycle only currently covers the UK, we are actively exploring similar arrangements in other geographies.
Responsibility is at the heart of our values; without it we will not deliver healthier lives and happier homes. Tackling plastic pollution is everyone’s responsibility. We must work together to drive the technical, behavioural and cultural change necessary to make change happen. We want all stakeholders to understand that where we use plastic we strive to use it responsibly and encourage consumers to dispose of it with care.