Packaging protects the products we love and provides information about how to use them safely and responsibly – and packaging needs to become part of a circular economy.

Promote circularity

Eliminating, reducing and – where this is not possible – recycling packaging materials, especially for our consumer goods, is the best way to minimize waste and the related negative environmental effects. Our goal is to reduce the amount of packaging material we use to a minimum – without compromising the quality, performance or safety of our products – and to provide consumers with all the information they need for safe use and proper disposal. With a few exceptions, today our packaging has been developed to provide the level of performance consumers expect, while minimizing the use of resources. In addition, our packaging can be disposed of in existing collection and recycling systems.

At the same time, resource consumption can be reduced if materials are kept within the cycles of the economy for as long as possible. As a result, our mission is to include materials from sustainable sources and to design packaging so that it can be reused as raw materials for new products in order to close the material loop. Our packaging developers work closely with suppliers, packaging material manufacturers, recyclers and reprocessors to meet the requirements of functional packaging.

In our Adhesive Technologies business unit, we are focusing on innovative solutions that facilitate recycling and on the separation of materials to make it possible to repair, reuse and refurbish products and product parts.

Henkel is also pursuing a variety of approaches to implement closed-loop recycling in its own production processes. In this area, we emphasize the separate collection of all recyclable waste streams at our sites.

YouTube Thumbnail Henkel Sustainability Film 2022 Promote circularity (Thumbnail)

Our packaging strategy: Strong focus, ambitious targets

At Henkel, we recognize our responsibility related to packaging. We’re committed to promoting sustainability and bring this commitment to life through a set of ambitious targets. Our strategy is built around the circular economy concept and focuses on including materials from sustainable sources and using a smart design to close the loop – for the benefit of people and the planet.

Our strategy to promote the circular economy for packaging is centered around three pillars:

1. Intelligent packaging design and reduction of packaging material

Sustainable packaging solutions are the best way to create an efficient and cost-effective circular economy. Innovative design is essential in replacing virgin raw materials with recycled or renewable alternatives wherever possible, which enables the use of more sustainable or renewable material. Our aim is that by 2025, 100 percent of Henkel’s packaging will have all of the necessary properties to enter a recycling process or be reusable.

2. Use of material from sustainable sources

Henkel constantly works on increasing the share of recycled content in ist packaging. We also aim to use packaging made from sustainable raw materials. The most widely used packaging materials made from renewable raw materials are paper and cardboard. It is our goal to obtain 100 percent of the paper and cardboard that we use in our packaging from recycled material or, where virgin fiber is required, from certified sustainable forestry sources.

3. Closing the loop together

We partner with organizations from along the packaging value chain to drive progress in the infrastructure for recycling. Our ambition under the framework of Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) is to ensure that there is no unregulated disposal of packaging waste. To achieve this environmental goal, we are driving collection and recycling systems that demonstrably support infrastructures that produce measurable collection and recycling volumes. Henkel is developing and testing new logos for product packaging to promote sustainable purchasing habits and communicate how to recycle properly. The logos indicate the percentage of recycled material or the recyclability of the packaging, and some also help to ensure that the product packaging is recycled properly. Another option for preventing waste is to reuse packaging.

Our packaging ambitions and targets

  • 100 percent of Henkel’s packaging is designed and developed to optimize recyclability or reusability by 2025.*
  • We aim to reduce the amount of virgin plastics from fossil sources in our consumer products by 50 percent by 2025. We will achieve this by increasing the proportion of recycled plastic to more than 30 percent and reducing the volume of virgin plastic.
  • We want to continuously help ensure that all packaging waste is properly disposed of and recycled, thereby preventing it from entering the environment. In order to achieve this, we are supporting waste collection and recycling initiatives. We are investing in innovative solutions and technologies that support improved infrastructure and consumer information to drive the recycling process.

* Excluding products where ingredients or residue may affect recyclability or pollute recycling streams.

Alongside this, we aim for 100 percent of the paper fibers in our paper packaging and cardboard to be made of recycled material or, where virgin fiber is required, to come from fresh fiber originating from certified, sustainable forestry. We also intend to discontinue the use of polyvinyl chloride (PVC) and other potentially harmful substances that are suspected of harming the environment and endangering health.

Our contribution to the circularity of industrial products

Our Adhesive Technologies business unit makes it possible to keep high-quality materials in circulation and turn waste into valuable resources. By combining our expertise in materials with our innovative technologies, we provide solutions that play an important role in the transition to a circular economy and are driving a rethink in industrial design and production.

Our approach to promoting a circular economy is centered around:

  • Recyclability
  • Debonding
  • Renewable carbon
  • Bio-based adhesives

Reducing production waste

We aim to promote circularity in our operations. In doing so, we strive to reduce waste from production and to recycle, refill or reuse production waste that cannot be prevented and to reduce the volume of waste that goes to landfills. We support this process by systematically identifying production waste streams and creating new circular systems where possible. We are focusing on increasing recycling at our sites and working closely with our partners in the value chain – suppliers, customers, and recycling and disposal companies.

Our initiatives are centered around three key areas:

  • Reducing material consumption and waste generation.
  • Reusing materials.
  • Recycling materials.

Partnerships along the value chain: Stronger together

Our efforts to achieve these targets are brought to life through strong collaboration with partners from across industries to drive innovation in packaging development. 

  • New Plastics Economy: this initiative is led by the Ellen MacArthur Foundation and brings stakeholders together to rethink the future of plastic and build momentum toward a circular economy. 
  • Alliance To End Plastic Waste: Henkel is a founding member of this global alliance which has the aim to promote solutions that put a stop to plastic waste in the environment, especially in the ocean.
  • Recyclate Forum: this initiative aims to raise consumers’ awareness of circular economy and consist of over 40 members, such as retailers, manufacturers, waste disposal companies, packaging producers and politicians.
  • European Plastics Pact and U.S. Plastics Pact: Henkel signed plastics pacts, in both the US and Europe. These two regional agreements, to which we were one of the first signatories, bring governments and businesses together to collaborate in moving toward a circular economy in which plastic is reused again and again.
  • CEFLEX: Henkel is also a founding member of CEFLEX, a consortium of more than 130 European companies and organizations aiming to make flexible packaging – which usually consists of multiple layers of film or foil that are often difficult to separate – easier to recycle.

One of our partners on the path to improved recycling of waste and the establishment of a circular economy is the social enterprise Plastic Bank. Henkel began its partnership with Plastic Bank in 2017 with the aim of reducing plastic waste in the environment and creating new opportunities for people living in poverty. In 2019, we extended this partnership by a further five years in order to support Plastic Bank’s commitment to establishing and developing local recycling infrastructure in Egypt. As of 2023, there were 24 collection centers operating around Cairo, along the Nile River, and in Red Sea vacation hotspots.

What’s to come: Becoming more sustainable

Packaging is constantly changing, driven by innovative new designs and changing consumer expectations. This constant transformation opens up exciting opportunities to minimize the negative environmental impact of packaging. At Henkel, our experts are committed to exploring the possibilities to make packaging more sustainable – protecting the products we love while also offering a better contribution to the planet.