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Sustainable plastic packaging & packaging recycling commitments


“By 2050, there will be more plastic than fish in the sea.” – Ellen MacArthur Foundation Report 2016

This outlook, in addition to pictures of polluted waterways and oceans, has left us all deeply concerned about what we are leaving behind for future generations. And the exponential increase of plastic production not only pollutes the environment; it also amplifies climate change. At the same time, there are some good reasons to use plastic: it is very lightweight, durable, and safe for application across many industries. Humanity is faced with the question of how to solve the global plastic problem.   

At NIVEA, we are on a mission to use plastic responsibly within our product packaging, guided by the principles of the circular economy. Our approach is straightforward: we reduce plastic wherever possible, we recycle plastic as much as we can, we replace it when it makes sense to do so - to create plastic-free packaging -  and we enable you to reuse our packaging.To underline our commitment, we are pursuing ambitious targets:

By 2025, we want to reduce the fossil-based virgin plastic we use in our packaging by 50 percent (base year 2019).
We are following this objective by reducing the weight of our packaging, integrating recycled content and replacing fossil-based plastic with plant-based alternatives.

By 2025, we will have 30 percent recycled material in our plastic packaging.
Using recycled plastic is key in counteracting the exploitative use of natural resources and plastic pollution. By giving packaging material a second life, we prevent further extraction of fossil resources for virgin plastic production as well as environmental pollution by generating a demand for secondary materials.

By 2025, we will ensure that 100 percent of our plastic packaging can be refillable, reusable or recyclable packaging. 
Of course, our responsibility does not end on the shelf. Instead, we are working to make all of our plastic packaging either recyclable, refillable or reusable. That is how it can have a second life, or even many more.
All our efforts towards more sustainable plastic packaging not only contribute to preventing pollution, but also lead to reduced CO2 emissions and therefore contribute to fighting against climate change.


recycling logo
Of course, to generate zero waste, no packaging would be the best solution for our planet. However, unfortunately this approach would not protect our skincare products all the way from our production sites to your home. Still, when it comes to plastic, less is more! To reduce our overall plastic consumption, we are looking at each type of packaging we produce and challenging ourselves to only use as much material as necessary. This is also the most effective way of reducing the CO2 emissions associated with packaging.

We are very proud of our lightweight champion, the NIVEA Naturally Good Body Lotion bottle. It is made of 50 percent less plastic compared to a standard NIVEA body lotion bottle. The sustainable design not only leads to significantly less plastic waste, but it has another hidden talent: due to a notch on the bottom of the bottle, it can be fully squeezed and even rolled up like a tube. That is how you can use every last drop of lotion. More than that, smaller packaging means that more products fit on a pallet for transport, which leads to more products in one truck, fewer trucks on the streets and reduced CO2 emissions.


The use of recycled material is key in counteracting the exploitative use of natural resources and plastic pollution. By giving packaging material a second life, we prevent the further extraction of fossil resources for virgin plastic production, as well as environmental pollution, by generating a demand for secondary materials.

Depending on the type of plastic used (PET, PE, or PP), the integration of recycled material can be a technical challenge, as the availability of high-quality recycled plastic is still low. It is very important for us that the recycled plastic packaging material does not harm the safety or efficacy of our skincare products. 

We have already made significant progress: by the end of 2020, NIVEA has converted 90 percent of our PET bottles in Europe to include recycled material. This measure alone will save us more than 1,200 tons of virgin plastic per year. 

You will find an indication on many of our products that they are made from just under 100 percent recycled plastic. The reason why we have not reached 100 percent yet is because we color our bottles to give them our distinct NIVEA look. To color plastic, a combination of pigments and virgin plastic is currently still needed technologically. Since we always want to be transparent about our progress, we disclose this honestly.
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Many of your favorite NIVEA products already come in recycled packaging. For example, our NIVEA Micellar Water PET bottles or our see-through PET shower gel bottles. Also, countless recent product launches, such as the NIVEA Shower Fresh Blends, have come to market in PET-bottles made from at least 97 percent recycled material (PCR), therefore avoiding 150 tons of fossil-based virgin plastic.

NIVEA NATURAL BALANCE Organic Hemp Seed Oil Body Lotion


We are also working on switching over to recycled material in NIVEA packaging for products that do not need to be washed off or washed out: For example, in 2020 we were able to integrate 95 percent recycled PET into our NIVEA Sun Spray bottles.

We have also started to roll out recycled PE in our male body cleansing assortment, which we will continuously expand to further products and categories in the future.
recycled nivea product


Whether packaging can be recycled depends on the local recycling infrastructure. So, check with your local waste disposal provider about how you can best contribute to the recycling of packaging. 

At NIVEA, we carefully evaluate each product packaging in collaboration with an external institute in order to find out how much of the packaging’s material can already be detected, sorted and recycled in practice and at scale. Sometimes the changes we need to make to increase recyclability are small, but impactful. A case in point: the NIVEA Micellar facial cleansing range – here, we eliminated the silver foil previously used on the back label. 

Another example of an action we took to increase the recyclability of our packaging was to use new color pigments in our black packaging. Previously, black plastic packaging was often not detected during the automated sorting process in recycling plants and was therefore incinerated. The newly developed color particles are correctly detected by today’s sorting technology and channeled accordingly for recycling. Since 2020, we only use these new color pigments in our NIVEA Micellar Expert range as well as for the NIVEA MEN DEEP shampoos and shower gels.


In the area of “reuse”, NIVEA has implemented different initiatives all over Europe with the aim of reducing plastic waste and emissions by offering you the opportunity to refill your favorite NIVEA products.

In Germany, for example, our first in-store shower gel refill stations were launched in cooperation with one major German retailer, the drugstore chain dm, in selected stores. With the aim to drive reusability and to reduce single use plastic, the customized refill machine was designed to comply with the highest hygiene standards and provide intuitive handling. And we are proud to announce that it has already won two awards: the MUSE design award and Sustainability Readers Award 2020 Packaging Europe. 

In France and the UK, NIVEA is also taking part in the pilot phase of Terracycle’s Zero Waste Initiative “Loop” with two NIVEA MEN After Shave products. Here, used-up product packaging is collected from customers’ homes, cleaned, and refilled to allow multiple usage-loops for consumers.


At NIVEA, we use so-called post-consumer recycled (PCR) plastic. This consists of materials that originate from plastic recycling of household waste – such as material found in the “yellow bag” in Germany or returns from the beverage industry.  Through the use of such secondary raw materials in product packaging, natural resources are protected, and the use of fossil-based virgin plastic is avoided, therefore CO2 emissions are reduced.


pink nivea magic bar
Although plastic is often still the packaging material of choice, there are sometimes opportunities to completely rethink the use of conventional plastic and replace it with an alternative. Our NIVEA MagicBAR is a great example for a plastic-free beauty product. It is our first solid vegan face wash that is 100 percent plastic free and packaged in cardboard. Moreover, the plastic free face wash is the first NIVEA range to have achieved the Ecocert® Cosmos Natural certification.
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Our NIVEA Naturally Good Face Care jar is another example of how conventional plastic can be replaced. The production of the recyclable plastic jar pioneers the use of plant-based, along with fossil-based, input materials. While not the entire production runs on plant-based materials yet, we are ensuring that the equivalent amount needed for our jar is integrated into the process. This is guaranteed by the independent ISCC Plus certification.


We want to be 100 percent transparent and answer all your questions about sustainability at NIVEA. If you could not find all the answers you were looking for on this website, or are looking for more detailed information, please visit the sustainability website of NIVEA’s parent company, Beiersdorf.