Many people are now used to recycling their general household waste. But, despite best intentions, a few complicated items still end up on landfill sites. This is a pretty likely fate for most beauty product packaging, encouraging brands to find new ways to reuse the tubs, bottles, and tubes that fill makeup bags and bathrooms across the nation. John Lewis has introduced a beauty product recycling scheme to do just that.
"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," John Lewis' senior sustainability manager, Martyn White, said in a statement. "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 company's BeautyCycle initiative is being trialled for a month in the 36 stores that offer a full beauty service. (You can find a complete list of stores here.) Any empty items can be recycled, except for potentially flammable packaging such as aerosol cans, nail varnish , and perfume bottles.
Avid recyclers will be rewarded for their efforts with a £5 voucher. This can be used for an in-store beauty purchase. During the test phase however, only John Lewis loyalty members will be eligible for a reward. So you might want to sign up here to be in with a chance of being included.
John Lewis has partnered with recycling company TerraCycle for the scheme. TerraCycle will be responsible for picking packaging up, separating items, and recycling or composting them. Some plastic empties may even be transformed into the likes of storage boxes and outdoor furniture, reports Metro. If BeautyCycle goes well, John Lewis may consider continuing it and rolling it out to other stores.
If you're wondering why beauty recycling is only just becoming a thing, Stephen Clarke, head of communications at TerraCycle, recently explained the difficulties to Glamour: "Small containers are hard to clean, multi-compositional packages need separating at the material level, coloured and opaque plastics have low demand in the recyclables market, and the small size of the caps, pots, wands, and trays of makeup and skincare fall through the cracks at recycling facilities."
In summary, that's a lot of plastic potentially being left to pollute the earth and oceans. Thankfully, John Lewis isn't the only brand increasing its ethical responsibility. The Body Shop also recently teamed up with TerraCycle, offering customers a £5 voucher for every five empties that are returned to store. (A full list of participating stores can be found here.)
TerraCycle even has its own recycling programme, created in collaboration with Garnier. There are almost 3,000 drop-off locations throughout the UK. And if there isn't one local to you, you can start your own.
Pretty much anything beauty-related can be recycled via these drop-offs, including single use mask packaging, plastic wipes containers, plastic roll-on deodorants, flexible tubes, pots, caps, pumps, and trigger sprays. The only things that are a big no no are flammable products and rigid plastic bottles.
It may take a while to get used to separating your beauty packaging, but financial incentives from your favourite brands will certainly help. Plus, you are literally doing your part to save the planet. What better feeling is there than that?