US speciality materials company Eastman and nonprofit organisation the Pact Collective have partnered to address the challenge of coloured PET (polyethylene terephthalate) packaging waste received at material recovery facilities (MRFs).

The Pact Collective manages beauty packaging take-back programmes at retail and consumer levels. Its multicoloured PET waste will be used as feedstock for Eastman’s methanolysis technology, which uses depolymerisation to break down polyester waste into its basic polymer building blocks.

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Multicoloured PET waste is​ unlikely to be mechanically recycled at MRFs due to colour variations, but Eastman’s methanolysis process enables the upcycling of this material into Eastman renew materials — copolyesters and PET for the beauty industry.

Molecular recycling technologies are suited to managing the complex waste collected through Pact’s take-back programmes.

Eastman and Pact are committed to validating more complex streams of beauty packaging and reducing dependency on less sustainable options such as waste-to-energy​ or landfilling.

Pact executive director Carly Snider commented: “Eastman may even help us keep this plastic material in circulation, creating more post-consumer recycled content that can be used in future beauty packaging.”

Eastman cosmetics packaging segment manager Tara Cary added: “By harnessing our methanolysis technology, we are heading towards a future where beauty packaging waste is a valuable resource, not a burden.”

Eastman recently linked with food packaging developer deSter to introduce reusable in-flight drinkware to the airline industry.