• Tamsin Lacourte

How do I recycle?: Beauty Products

The cosmetics industry produces 120 billion units of packaging every year, most of which is now recyclable. Despite huge improvements over the last couple of years to increase the reuse potential of beauty product packaging, many people are still uncertain of how to dispose of the empty packaging. A RecycleNow campaign showed that our recycling habits, whilst well implemented in the kitchen, are left to be desired in the bathroom realm. The behavioural discrepancy is quite flagrant with close to 90% of people recycling in the kitchen, but only 50% do so in the bathroom.


Shampoo bottles and soap boxes may be straightforward, but cosmetics packaging present a whole new level of recycling difficulty. Let's unpack that shall we?


1. Home recycling


The most accessible and least time-consuming way to recycle our beauty products is to put them in our home recycling. Check RecycleNow's directory to see whether the packaging is accepted in your local council, the last thing we want to do is contaminate the bin with unwanted items.


2. Maybelline recycling scheme

Cosmetics giant Maybelline, in partnership with Terracycle, has launched a new recycling scheme that accepts all brands in an effort to curb waste. The focus of this scheme to increase the capture of hard-to-recycle packaging like mascaras and makeup palettes.


Accepts (all brands):

  • Compacts & palettes, such as eyeshadows, powders & blushers

  • Mascaras including the plastic tube and wand & liners such as retractable plastic liners or liquid eye liners

  • Lip products such as plastic lip gloss tubes or bullet lipstick tubes

  • Plastic tubes & bottles such as foundation or concealer tubes

  • Other makeup packaging such as caps, pumps or trigger sprays

Does not accept:

  • makeup brushes and nail polish

  • aerosols

  • glass bottles

  • cardboard or paper packaging

All you have to do is bring your old makeup to participating Boots and Superdrug stores where recycling bins are made available. To find your nearest store, check Terracycle's recycling locator.


3. L'Occitane recycling scheme


French beauty mogul L'Occitane has also partnered up with Terracycle to deliver its own recycling program.

Drop off your empty products (any brand) in any L'Occitane store and redeem 10% off any full priced item in store. You can only bring a maximum of 10 items per visit.


If you're short on time, L'Occitane offers a postal recycling service. To schedule your recycling, enter 'RECYCLE' at checkout. You will receive a fully recyclable Terracycle envelope to put your empty products. All you have to do now, is drop it off at your nearest post box. Unlike the in-store collection scheme, only L'Occitane products are accepted via postal service.


4. Khiel's recycling scheme


Consumer-favourite Khiel's has also jumped on the recycling band-waggon. And like L'Occitane, Khiel's offers a dual recycling collection scheme both in-store and online.


To reap all the advantages of your good-deed, drop your empties (any brand) at your closest Khiel's store (excluding department store counters) and collect stamps on your loyalty card. 5 stamps get you 5% off and 10 stamps get you 10% off.


Otherwise, schedule a free pick-up by requesting a label. Prepare your empties for collection by placing them in an empty cardboard box or envelope. You will be notified by email of the collection date.

Does not accept:

  • sample sachet packaging

  • outer packaging and plastic wrapping

  • makeup product and brushes

  • fragrance or perfume bottles

  • other brands of body/hand wash, deodorant, bath/hair product packaging which aren't Kiehl's

  • other brands of glass skincare packaging which are not Kiehl's


5. Body Shop recycling scheme


Body Shop was probably one of the first brands to launch its own recycling initiative. All you have to do it find your nearest Body Shop store and pop in to drop off your empties. The brand is currently exploring new ways to thank consumers partaking in the scheme.


Accepts (all brands):

  • plastic bottles

  • plastic tubs

  • plastic pots

Does not accept:

  • any packaging classified as hazardous or flammable (ie nail varnish, nail varnish remover, aerosols, perfume bottles)


6. Boots Scan2Recycle scheme


Boots has also launched its own program on top of its Maybelline partnership. The brand is leveraging technology to ensure to right items go into their recycling bins. To take part, register on the Boots Scan2Recycle website and validate the product you want to recycle by snapping a picture of it and uploading it to the website. Once you have validated 5 items or more, head to your nearest participating Boots store. Redeem your points by scanning the QR code on the recycling bin. For every 5 items recycled, you earn 500 Boots Advantage Card points, worth £5.


The scheme specialises in hard-to-recycle beauty, healthcare and wellness products. Usually this is because they are too small (travel minis and samples, mascaras etc), made of composite materials (make-up palettes and compacts, lipsticks etc) or made from non-recyclable materials (toothpaste tubes, lotion pumps etc). Check the Scan2Recycle FAQ for the full list of accepted empties.




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