How to Recycle Your Skincare Products

recycle your empties to dew list

Zero waste is a hot topic and initiative for packaging in the beauty and skincare world — finally! If you had no idea, single use plastics and products are a problem all around the world, and have made a pretty big contribution to landfills and overall pollution.

It’s second nature for us to recycle products relating to food, kitchen, cleaning supplies, and shipping containers; but when it comes to beauty and skincare we fall short. According to a study done by Garnier, 56% of Brits don’t recycle bathroom products. Mainly because it’s second nature to throw something in your bathroom’s trash bin. To put it in perspective, if we recycle one plastic hair bottle, it would save enough energy to power a juicer for two minutes every day. Let’s get juice-in!

Because beauty and skincare products are typically made of a few different materials, things can get a bit confusing, and therefore get thrown out instead of recycled. The best way you can help, is research which brands actually are making sustainable, recyclable, or refillable packaging. This way, it’s a no brainer on if you can recycle that product or not!

But if you don’t want to do any research, what would be the best way for you to recycle your empties? Each state and country has it’s own recycling laws so if you want to get more specific, I would look into your local recycling facilities rules. In the meantime, here are some high-level tips on how to dispose of your products in the right way.

Recycle Tips

  • First and foremost, wipe (not rinse) out all of the product from your packaging. This helps with making sure that no harmful chemicals don’t end up in waste streams or absorbed into the air. Um no thanks!

  • Check the labels to see what can actually be recycled. Look for the little triangle with arrow symbols, if it’s on there, it can be recycled.

  • If there isn’t a little triangle with arrows symbol, look for another symbol with a number in it. Products using 1 and 2 are most likely recyclable. If there is a 3 on it, it contains PVC which means it cannot be recycled. Numbers 4-7 are a no-go, and need to get trashed.

  • Just because it’s made of recycled materials doesn’t mean it is recyclable.

  • Most cardboard boxes and paper that comes with your product are recyclable. Which is great!

  • Small products doesn’t pass the recycling stamp of approval because products under 6-oz will get missed in sorting, and ultimately trashed at the facilities. (ex: lip balms, lids and sample containers)

  • Color of the container makes a difference. Glass that is clear, brown or green is great for recycling. Random colors are a bit more problematic to sell back to the packaging facilities. Overall glass can be recycled, but buy basic.

  • Tubes and pouches most often cannot be recycled. Multi-layered or multi-materials are tricky (think toothpaste or masks).

  • Pumps/droppers are an issue due to its multi-material composition. Just ditch the pump before you recycle the bottle.

  • Caps and screw-tops are typically OK, even if it’s made of a different material as the container. But make sure it’s actually on the product itself because the lid will get trashed at facilities because it’s too small.

  • Check to see if aerosols can be recycled in your area. Most dry shampoo and hairspray cans are made of steel or aluminum, and are OK to recycle. Make sure the bottles are totally empty before you recycle it.

  • Remove your product labels if possible. Adhesives can be a problem at recycling facilities. If you can’t take it off, no biggie but it would be nice. :)

  • Cellophane can not be recycled.

  • Cotton pads can be put in the compost bin!

  • When in doubt trash it. When your dirty or non-recyclable bottle is in the mix, someone physically has to stop the process and remove that bottle from the mix, slowing down the whole process. Don’t be that guy…

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