LVMH Beauty (LVMH) is joining Avantium’s PEFerence consortium to develop plant-based, recyclable PEF (polyethylene furanoate) packaging for its perfumes and cosmetics brands, such as Christian Dior and Marc Jacobs.
PEF bioplastic has demonstrated potential for replacing fossil fuel-based PET (polyethylene terephthalate). LVHM will support PEF’s commercialization as the PEFerence consortium’s newest member.
Meanwhile, Avantium’s shareholders recently approved the final investment decision to construct the world’s first flagship plant for producing FDCA (furandicarboxylic acid), the main building block of PEF.
Caroline van Reedt Dortland, Avantium’s communications director, says the main concern for brands transitioning from conventional plastics to bioplastic alternatives is maintaining adequate barrier performance.
“As in food and beverage, the barrier performance in cosmetic and personal care applications is important for numerous product lines. Especially with the trend to use natural ingredients and avoid antioxidants, PEF’s barrier performance is of interest to a number of brands,” she tells PackagingInsights.
“Also, the cosmetic and personal care industry is accelerating its [environmental] sustainability activities, which means there is interest for solutions that are fully plant-based and recyclable.”
The power of PEF
The PEFerence consortium, coordinated by Avantium, aims to replace a significant share of fossil-based polyesters with the novel polymer PEF. PEF is a plant-based, highly recyclable plastic with superior performance properties compared to today’s widely used petroleum-based packaging materials, the company says.
“PEF can be processed in the same way as current materials on the market,” continues van Reedt Dortland. “PEF as packaging material allows for freedom of design, gloss, transparency, printability and metallization, which are all key for achieving a luxury look and feel.”
Technically, all packaging types, including bottles, jars, vials, makeup palettes, containers, tubes and small pouches, can be manufactured with PEF.
“Part of the materials currently used by cosmetic and personal care brands to produce jars, vials and makeup cases, for example, are difficult to recycle. PEF is a high-performance, fully recyclable material and can therefore replace such materials, improving circularity in the industry,” adds van Reedt Dortland.
LVMH says its social and environmental strategy “LIFE 360” is boosted by PEFerence consortium membership. The consortium supports its aim to produce packaging free from virgin fossil feedstock.
“The environmental and performance features of PEF are unique and very promising to meet our [environmentally] sustainable packaging goals. Together, with the other PEFerence consortium partners, we aim to shape this next-generation, fully circular and [environmentally] sustainable packaging material,” comments Claude Martinez, executive president and managing director at LVMH’s Beauty Division.
“We are pleased with the decision of LVMH to join the PEFerence consortium, demonstrating the importance of our mutual work to develop packaging solutions for a circular and sustainable future,” adds Avantium’s CEO, Tom van Aken.
PackagingInsights spoke in depth with van Aken last year about the emerging PEF market and the company’s vision for “radical solutions” for the circular economy.
Green light on flagship plant
In December, Avantium shareholders approved the construction of the world’s first FDCA flagship plant. The green light from the shareholders allows Avantium to begin the execution of all relevant documentation to complete the transaction, which is expected in the first quarter of 2022.
The construction of the FDCA flagship plant is planned to start after the financial close and be completed by the end of 2023. Avantium expects that the FDCA Flagship Plant will be operational in 2024, enabling the commercial launch of PEF from 2024.
“With the green light to construct the FDCA flagship plant, Avantium moves to an exciting new chapter of commercializing the plant-based, fully recyclable plastic material PEF,” says Edwin Moses, chairman of the Supervisory Board.
“We strongly believe that this scalable manufacturing capability will create value and provide important products, which will benefit our stakeholders and have a very positive effect on the environment in which we live.”
European Bioplastics estimates global bioplastics production will more than triple over the next five years (2021-2026), according to market data compiled in cooperation with the nova-Institute.
Meanwhile, European Bioeconomy Alliance has criticized the EU’s methodology for life cycle assessments comparing bio-based with conventional plastics, labeling it “not fit for purpose” and favorable to fossil-based options.
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