It's now more important than ever
Ever since that final episode of Blue Planet II aired in December 2017, we have known just how horrific the extent of the devastation that plastics has on planet, especially our oceans. According to Global Citizen, by late 2018 88% of those who had seen it had changed their relationship with plastic completely. They went on to call the episode, ‘a key moment sparking the war on plastics.’
We have certainly noticed more reusable water bottles on our commute and in the office – some people have gone a week completely plastic-free and huge brands like Waitrose are doing their bit to reduce their plastic waste.
So, does this mean that we are nailing our recycling routines? Apparently not as, according to research carried out by Garnier, 56% of Brits don’t recycle their bathroom products. It’s thought to be partly down to us being used to having two bins in our kitchen, that it’s almost second nature to separate our recyclable goods. But the other issue is the complexity of bathroom products; a hand soap bottle and an eyeshadow palette are slightly more confusing that the plastic container your mushrooms come in
‘Beauty product packaging is often composed of a variety of types of material,’ explains Stephen Clarke, Head of Communications at TerraCycle Europe. ‘For example — mirrored glass, cardboard sleeves, paper inserts, expanded plastic foam and more have been known to be used in cosmetics packaging– sometimes all in one item.’ This makes recycling them incredibly difficult.
‘120 billion units of packaging are produced every year by the global cosmetics industry,’ Clarke continues. ‘Of these, very few plastic waste items generated in the bathroom are accepted by most public kerbside recycling programmes. Most common beauty products and packaging contribute to the world’s growing plastic waste problem and, without adequate recovery solutions, are tracked for landfills, burned, buried, or simply littered where waste management is insufficient. Many plastic waste items find their way into oceans and waterways, compounding the problem with environmental hazards.’
We need to make sure that where we can, we are recycling our beauty products properly. Below is our guide to what can be recycled and what should just be thrown in the normal bin. When in doubt, throw it out.
This is important, says Clarke, because ‘beauty products and packaging that cannot be recycled through the public system will not only be diverted towards landfill or incineration anyway, they slow down the system and have the potential to contaminate bales of secondary material. This is important because we must improve the system to create a circular economy for plastics.’
How to recycle your beauty products
So many beauty products, like fragrances and new make-up products, come wrapped in cellophane. Annoyingly, this cannot be recycled and should be put in your normal bin.
Plastic bottles, like shampoos, conditioners and shower gels, are accepted by most recycling programmes. However, make sure that you have emptied and cleaned them out first. You can also leave the lids on as these can be recycled, unless it’s a trigger head or a pump. These will need to go in your normal bin. If you haven’t completely finished your conditioner, do NOT pour it down the sink. Instead, get out as much as possible and put it in your normal bin. (The same goes with any product that you have a little left of.)
Yes, hairsprays and deodorants can be recycled in most household collection schemes. But do make sure they’ve been completely finished before recycling them.
Mascara, lipstick, make-up palettes (eye shadow, bronzer, blusher)
Annoyingly, these are too complicated to recycle. However, TerraCycle has partnered with Garnier to create a free recycling programme for beauty packaging, and these can be taken to one of their allocated drop-off locations. Find your nearest one here. They will also take sheets masks and their wrappers, face wipes and their packets, trigger sprays, pumps, pipettes, roll-on deodorants.
Hooray! As long as these have been emptied and cleaned, these are free to be popped in your recycling bin.
This is an interesting one, as they have come under quite a bit criticism for being as bad for the environment as face wipes, but in actual fact these can be recycled with your food waste. So after taking your make-up off, take them straight into the kitchen to throw away.
If your tools still work, check with your local charity shop if they’ll take them. If they’re broken, then they can be recycled at a specific centre. To find your local one, click here.
For hair straighteners specifically, Cloud Nine recently launched their own iron recycling service. They’ll recycle or reuse your old straighteners, free of charge, and regardless of the brand or when/where they were purchased. Simply download a pre-paid recycling label, pop your straighteners in a box and take to the Post Office. You can find out more about the scheme at cloudninehair.com/recycle.
Nail varnish, fragrance bottles, make-up brushes
These can’t be recycled, so should just be placed in the normal waste bin.
Toothbrushes and toothpaste
Don’t put these in your recycling, there are special drop-off locations (that can be found here) that have been set up by TerraCycle and Colgate.
What else can you do?
- TerraCycle has also paired with brands like Kiehl’s, L’Occitane and The Body Shop. Theses brands are accepting old beauty containers and will recycle them on your behalf. There are often freebies and discounts if you do it this way.
- Get your hands on a TerraCycle Zero Waste Box – for a price they send an empty box to your house, you fill it with your beauty empties (shampoo bottles and caps, conditioner bottles and caps, hair gel tubes and caps, non-pressurised hair spray bottles, hair paste plastic jars and caps, lip balm tubes, face soap dispensers and tubes, lotion bottles, lotion tubes, lotion dispensers and jars, non-pressurised shaving foam tubes, lip gloss tubes, mascara tubes, eye liner pencils and cases, eye shadow tubes, concealer tubes and sticks) and then send it back to them to recycle it all.
- Buy products that are packaged in highly recycled materials, like PET bottles
- Buy from brands that offer a refillable service or reusable packaging
Brands doing their bit
Ren has a company-wide goal of being completely zero waste by 2021. That’s only two years away. It currently has 100% recyclable packaging, refillable solutions and bottles made from reclaimed ocean plastic.
In their most recent beauty campaign, Liberty launched Conscious Beauty. Throughout, there has been a drop-off point, where you could take your packaging to be collected and recycled. They also championed all of their brands that are doing what they can to be more sustainable.
From tomorrow, Neal’s Yard will have an in-house recycling scheme. You will be able to take some of the trickiest items to recycle to one of their stores, this will include sample sachets, superfood pouches, facial wipe packages, pumps and atomisers. You will then receive 10% off their next purchase.
The Body Shop, renowned for its ethical trading initiatives, has teamed up with tech business Plastics For Change and Hasiru Dala, a local Indian NGO and social enterprise, to buy 250 tonnes of plastic collected by waste pickers in Bangalore this year, which will rise to 500 tonnes in 2020. This recycled plastic will be used to create the bottle of their haircare ranges. There are also recycling points in store.
L’Occitane have had TerraCycle collection points in their stores and have sponsored beach cleans all over the UK, from Brighton to Edinburgh.
Yesterday saw the launch of Selfridges Project Ocean Beauty Booth, which sees them pledge to ensure that at least 50% of their products are better for humans and the planet by 2022. As part of the initiative, they will have people on hand to help teach customers how to reduce, reuse and recycle plastic waste in their bathrooms.
If that wasn’t enough, here are some products to get your hands on that are ……..
Each of Floral Street's fragrances comes packaged in a box made from recycled coffee cups.
Take away the need to throw away your perfume bottle by investing in a refilling flagon.
There's absolutely no plastic involved in the packaging of this foundation. It comes in a recycled and recyclable cardboard box and that little black bit at the bottom is peelable wax.
Tata Harper took the decision to house all of her products in glass, because it can be recycled again and again and again.
Ren uses plastics sourced from our oceans to make the bottle for this shower gel with plans to expand this scheme across the entire product range.
Since the brand started, they have been all about recycling. Their bottles are made from 50% post-consumer recycled plastic and their aim is to raise that number. Their pumps are also 100% recyclable.
This bottle is 100% recycled plastic and Aveda have a mission to do this across the rest of the range.
We Are Paradoxx use as little plastic as possible in their haircare products. That's why they took the decision to use aluminium packaging instead.
Beauty Kubes is one of the brands being featured at the Selfridges Project Ocean Beauty Booth. It has taken away the use of any plastics, hoping to reduce people's bathroom waste.
Not only have Dior removed excess packaging from their products, including cellophane and instructional leaflets, they also do refillable bottles for some of their bestselling ranges: L'Or De Vie, Capture Totale and Dior Prestige.