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Home » Circular Economy » Putting people and the planet at the heart of consumer health

Joseph Muscat

Sustainability Director, Haleon

With the health of people inextricably linked to the planet’s welfare, it’s a natural step for a consumer health company to adopt an ethos that embraces both.

Consumer health company Haleon is identifying opportunities to evaluate and refine processes to reduce its environmental impact. For Sustainability Director Joseph Muscat, it’s an opportunity that aligns directly with the company’s overarching purpose. “We’re focused on delivering better everyday health with humanity,” he says. “The health of people and health of the planet are connected. The more degraded the environment, the worse the outcomes on people’s health.”

Circularity for consumer health

The group is working to move to a more circular model with the aim of making all packaging recyclable or reusable by 2030, where quality, safety and regulations allow. The company set itself a target to make 1 billion recycle-ready toothpaste tubes by 2025.

According to Muscat, a deep understanding of materials was essential to working toward this milestone. “We aim to design products that work with existing or emerging infrastructure: we have to look carefully at the materials used and how they interact with the wider economy.”

Haleon has already rolled out more than 1.2 billion recycle-ready Sensodyne, Aquafresh and parodontax tubes, two years ahead of its target. However, making the tubes is only half the battle.

In the UK, the tubes have been classified as recyclable.

Working together

Collaboration across the value chain with partners and suppliers has been crucial. “We recognise that, to drive systemic change, we must work with partners within and beyond our sector to improve market acceptance of recyclable packaging and create more effective recycling systems,” says Muscat.

The company has been working with peers like Colgate-Palmolive and a third-party partner to collect data showing compatibility of toothpaste tubes with the widely collected high-density polyethylene rigid recycling stream, with promising results on both sides of the Atlantic. In the UK, the tubes have been classified as recyclable.

Responsible design for the future

Haleon’s longer-term ambition for packaging innovation explores bolder possibilities driven by responsible design principles. “Our R&D Future Horizons packaging team is co-developing high-potential packaging formats and materials offering an absolute reduction in plastic use and carbon footprint. One example is our upstream cellulose-based innovation program on bottles and blisters. We intend to play a role in creating a future for consumer health packaging that is more sustainable and inclusively designed.”

In July 2022, Haleon demerged from GlaxoSmithKline, becoming the UK’s first publicly listed pure-play consumer health company with a stable of globally market-leading brands, including Sensodyne toothpaste and Centrum multivitamins.

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