Here's What You Need To Know About Recycling Your Old Beauty Products

Have you ever wondered what to do with those difficult to recycle old lipsticks and empty eye shadow pallets? How about old toothbrushes, used toothpaste tubes and flossing boxes? Not to mention other personal product packaging such as trigger heads and those pump taps for hand wash and other cleansers?

We took a hard look at the cosmetic industry and its implications for our health and that of the planet, including the massive amount of waste associated with the industry. According to a European Union Green Paper on plastic waste, 80% of plastic polluting the ocean comes from poor waste management on the land. For those of us committed to recycling in order to divert plastic from fragile environments, these personal grooming products pose a real headache.

According to Stephen Clarke, Head of Communications at Terracycle Europe,"120 billion units of packaging are produced every year by the global cosmetics industry" and recycling them can be hard. The problem is that many of these items are made of blended materials that can't be easily recycled. Furthermore, recycling becomes virtually impossible if there's any leftover product in the tube or container.

Beauty businesses are switching to more sustainable practices

The good news is that certain beauty companies are making efforts to make it easier for us to recycle their packaging and products. By cleaning up their act and improving the sustainability of their packaging products, they can ensure we can recycle them in our municipal recycling schemes. Many brands claim that all of their products are packaged in sustainable or recycled materials, and easy to recycle at the end of life.

Lush, for instance, make 35% of their products "naked" which means they are sold with no packaging. Their other products that come in pots and bottles are sold in 10% post-consumer plastic, which can be recycled in your city's recycling program or taken back to the Lush store for recycling. They then chip them down and remold them into more pots for their products, which creates a closed loop system. They also make 100% biodegradable packaging to protect their products for mail order packages, this is a cellophane that looks like plastic but actually can go straight into your compost! They are continuously improving their packaging as well, in the aim to be completely plastic free.

Be wary of companies that offer a reward for your recycling efforts.

You have to bear in mind that these schemes don't exist purely to encourage you to to recycle: of course it's a way to ensure that you also buy more of their products, when perhaps we just ought to be thinking about buying less… And whilst these are all positive steps in the right direction, who seriously has time for all of that. Not surprisingly, many people feel like recycling is a chore when you're having to return to point of purchase to do the right thing!

A One Stop Shop for Recycling

Enter TerraCycle, a company that puts themselves forward as a sort of one stop shop for recycling! TerraCycle team up with brands such as L'Oreal Australia and Colgate to help everyday Australian's reduce their waste footprint by collecting your old lipsticks, eyeshadow palettes, shampoo bottles, toothbrushes and tubes, and other skin and hair care packaging. Some of their programs are free, and some are not. With Terracycle you can order a Beauty Products and Packaging Zero Waste Box, where you load up the box full of your products and send this off to Terracycle to recycle for you. This has a cost to it however, find out prices here. They also have free recycling programs, however these are conducted in partnerships with certain brands, so have a look at this list to see what brands you can recycle for free with Terracycle. Note: Make sure you're checking out the list that's specific to your country.

Of course, in the end, the best way to tackle this problem head on is to buy less packaged personal grooming goods, and to "precycle", or simply make your own. If this is not an option for you, them you can buy better and more conscientiously. Do your own research on your favourite brands and ensure that they are doing their bit to at least assist you to do the right thing. Surely that's a fair price for them to pay to keep your loyalty! We've also made a comprehensive list of where to buy planet-friendly makeup, check it out here!

Read this next: Make your own toiletries

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