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Driving Sustainable Futures

June 24, 2021

Caring for Self and Planet: Sustainable Solutions in the Personal Care Market

By Wassim Berrak, Global Marketing Manager at Trinseo

Sustainability has arguably become one of the most impactful megatrends shaping society in recent years, particularly when one considers the personal care market. Today, personal care suppliers are laser-focused on building more sustainable product portfolios to meet consumer demand, and they’ve set ambitious sustainability goals to get there. At Trinseo, we’re playing a leading role in helping brands achieve these goals, which include increasing the use of recycled and bio-based content in thermoplastic elastomer (TPE) materials, reclaiming these materials from end-of-life devices, and helping to close the loop.

Sustainable Solutions for the Personal Care Market

The personal care market is clamoring for TPE materials with increasing levels of post-consumer recycled (PCR) content for use in products like razors and toothbrushes. With 10+ years of experience developing PCR-containing materials, Trinseo is well-positioned to meet this demand as a specialty and sustainable solutions provider. In fact, we currently offer TPE compounds with up to 95% PCR content for opaque and 75% for transparent materials, while retaining similar performance properties to fossil-based materials. And we’re continuously striving to increase these ratios while also securing a supply chain of high-quality PCR materials to meet demand.

The next frontier of recycled content containing TPE materials lies with chemical recycling. Trinseo has made a significant investment in advancing chemical recycling processes, particularly for polystyrene (PS). Through this process, we convert post-consumer PS waste back into its initial building blocks — monomer styrene — and reuse it to produce polymers with performance properties akin to virgin fossil-based PS, thus helping to close the loop for PS; we’ve also recently expanded these to include food-grade applications. As we continue to develop our proficiency with chemical recycling of PS, this will translate over to ABS and other compounds where styrene is part of the formulation.

For other products requiring food contact or medical grade materials, bio-based products are a sustainable option, and Trinseo has 12+ years of experience delivering these solutions. Derived from plants, sugar cane, and other biomaterials, biobased polymers and compounds are an excellent alternative to fossil-based materials and meet market demand for sustainable products with a feedstock that is renewable, doesn’t compromise global biodiversity or ecosystems, and is non-competitive to food sources.

Beyond the Solutions, Supplier Excellence

When it comes to delivering on sustainable solutions, a materials provider is essential to achieving a company’s goals and delivering quality, sustainable personal care products with superior performance properties. That’s where Trinseo comes in. In fact, it’s our mission in the personal care industry to be the recognized preferred supplier of leading-edge sustainable solutions that help brand owners achieve their sustainability goals. And it's written into our own Sustainability Goals, where we’re striving to focus 30% of our innovation on circular economy solutions by 2025 and to increase our share of sustainably advantaged products to 40% by 2030.

Furthermore, we uniquely supply both soft and rigid polymers for personal care products. By contributing both components, our team can anticipate and address any potential technical challenges with adhesion during the overmolding process, thus saving our customers time and money.

As consumer demand for sustainable personal care products soars, brands will need increasingly sustainable materials with which to respond. Thankfully, the field is awash with exciting sustainable solutions and potential new technologies to answer this demand.

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