We are all pretty savvy when it comes to recycling in our kitchen, from paper and plastic to glass and compost. But our bathroom waste tells a different story. Last year, the beauty sector produced over 142 billion units of packaging and most of which ended up in landfill of the ocean. This is terrifying if you consider that the UN predicted that our oceans will carry more plastic than fish by 2050 and declared our current situation a 'planetary crisis'.
There are many factors as to why our bathroom waste is an issue. Firstly, a lot of beauty products are designed to be squeezable, twistable and portable and often contain caps, labels and pumps which make them harder to recycle. And secondly, local recycling plants can't recycle certain materials.
But we can do better. While we can choose products that are completely plastic-free, such as Lush's solid shampoo bars and refillable lipsticks, or brands such as Cosmydor that have a no plastics policy, there is still the issue of not knowing how to recycle our empties. Thankfully, there are many companies who are stepping up when it comes to helping to safeguard the planet , such as The Body Shop's in-store recycling scheme, MAC's Back to MAC, which rewards customers with a free lipstick if they bring back six empty lipstick containers, and H&M's clothes recycling programme, which encourages shoppers to donate a bag of old clothes with a £5 voucher incentive.
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And now John Lewis has also joined the revolution by introducing a service to encourage customers to recycle their empty beauty products. The department store has teamed up with TerraCycle to launch the BeautyCycle scheme, which promises to "eliminate the idea of waste" by recycling the "previously non-recyclable".
Thirty-six stores across the UK which have a full beauty section are participating in the month-long trial and will each use TerraCycle's Zero Waste Box, which can take empties from any brand of makeup or skincare - as many as you like, one minumum. The initiative is currently available to half a million John Lewis & Partners loyalty members, who will receive a £5 voucher to spend on any beauty product instore.
TerraCycle is considered one of the global leaders in recycling hard-to-recycle materials. The company takes empty beauty packages and separates them into metals, fibres and plastics. Each part is then recycled, composted or, in the case of plastics, made into pellets which can be moulded into new products such as storage containers, plastic lumber and outdoor furniture.
Speaking on the new partnership, Martyn White, senior sustainability manager at John Lewis & Partners, said: “Our customers are becoming more mindful about what they buy and what happens to products once they’ve reached the end of their first life. Beauty products are notoriously hard to recycle which can make it hard for customers to know what to do with them, which often means they end up being thrown in the bin.
"One of our key aims is to make 'being sustainable' as easy as possible for customers, so it doesn't have to be a difficult choice. The BeautyCycle trial will help us to do just that, enabling customers to shop and enjoy beauty products in a more sustainable way, ensuring the materials are re-used in the best way possible.”
The initiative is part of the retailer's Better Way of Doing Business campaign whose mission is to help customers responsibly dispose of products when they are finished with them. Last year, John Lewis & Partners trialled a new platform which allowed customers to have fashion items collected from their home and reused or recycle. And supermarket Waitrose, which is also owned by John Lewis, is currently trialling a 'bring your own' container scheme to reduce plastic waste.
If the BeautyCycle trial is successful, John Lewis will expand the initiative.
The scheme accept all types of packaging, from shampoo bottles and caps to lotion bottles and jars, lip gloss and mascara tubes. The only packaging not accepted by the scheme is aerosol cans, nail varnish bottles and fragrance bottles, due to their potential flammability.
To find out more about TerraCycle, go to www.terracycle.com and @terracycleuk .
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