Plastics Recycling Update

Bic reports on 2023 recycled content use

Bic reported 62.1% recycled content in its plastic packaging in 2023, up from 54.7% in 2022 and 52.1% in 2021. | Arhelaos/Shutterstock

French manufacturer Bic used 62% recycled content in its plastic packaging last year, moving it closer to a 2025 goal. But the company has a ways to go to meet its goal for recycled content in its actual products, which include lighters, pens, razors and other consumer goods.

In its latest sustainability report, Bic reported using 62.1% recycled content in its plastic packaging in 2023, up from 54.7% in 2022 and 52.1% in 2021. The company has a goal to reach 75% by the end of 2025.“The 7.4 points increase vs 2022 is mainly due to more recycled content in PET blisters and 100% recycled content for lighter counter displays in the U.S.,” Bic wrote in an expanded version of its sustainability report. 

The company’s use of recycled or “alternative” plastics in its actual products was significantly lower, at 8% for 2023. That’s up from 5.7% in 2022 and 4% in 2021, but it’s short of the company’s goal of 20% by 2025 and 50% by 2030.

Still, some of the company’s individual products far outpace the average. In 2023, the company began selling a retractable gel pen in the U.S. made from 78% ocean-bound plastic.

Bic made most of its plastics recycling-related commitments in 2020. Like many consumer products giants, the company set 2025 target dates for most of the goals. Bic noted “the coming year will see us undertake a final push to ensure we achieve our objectives, particularly with regard to packaging and products.” Bic reported its 2023 capital expenditures included “investments in technologies that mix virgin plastic material with recycled plastic material.”

On the downstream side, Bic reported 81% of its packaging was recyclable, reusable or compostable, up 11 percentage points over 2022.

The company is also working to increase capture of its own products, including with a lighter recycling machine that Bic developed in-house. The company began building a workshop in Redon, France, in 2023, dedicated to housing these disassembly machines, and the company reported it will be completed and up and running in 2024.

“The machines disassemble the lighters piece by piece, separating the plastic bodies from other components, such as steel and springs,” the company reported. “Then, in a highly technically challenging process, they safely recover any remaining gas from the used product.”

They can process up to 5,000 lighters per hour, Bic added. The company is testing several collection models to recover end-of-life lighters for processing by these machines.

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