Did you know that plastic packaging alone accounts for 40% of the world’s total plastic usage? Although plastic packaging is used for far more than cosmetics, a high volume of cosmetic-related waste is being generated every year. For example, the World Wild Life Fund estimated that the UK used 10.8 billion wet wipes and 13.2 billion cotton buds in 2018 alone. Moreover, according to National Geographic, 91% of all global plastics have not been properly recycled.
Unfortunately for beauty lovers, cosmetic and beauty packaging can be some of the hardest plastic-packaged products to recycle due to the unique colors, shapes, and plastic types used to house our favorite beauty must-haves. Thankfully, some beauty brands are actively trying to reduce waste and encourage consumers to recycle their used makeup and packaging. The below list is a compilation of beauty brands that reward their customers for recycling.
GARNIER | Beauty Brigade with TerraCycle
Did you know that Garnier will actually donate to charity when you recycle? The well-known CPG brand teamed up with recycling company, TerraCycle, to recycle CPG packaging and will donate 2 points (or $0.01 USD) per unit recycled in shipments larger than 10 pounds. Here’s how it works: create a free account, collect your old packaging, ship them to TerraCycle, and these items will be recycled!
Items that can be returned via this program include shampoo caps, conditioner caps, hair gel tubes, and caps, hair spray triggers, and hair paste caps. As well as skin care packaging such as lip balm tubes and caps, soap dispensers and tubes, body wash caps, lotion dispensers and caps. Finally, cosmetics packaging such as lipstick cases, lip gloss tubes, mascara tubes, eye shadow cases, bronzer cases, foundation packaging, powder cases, eyeliner cases, eyeliner pencils, eye shadow tubes, concealer tubes, concealer sticks, and lip liner pencils.
Click here to read more about this program and to sign up.
INNISFREE | Eco-Recycling Program
Innisfree allows consumers to drop off their empty Innisfree packaging to any retail location in the US with the goal of transforming or upcycling the returned packaging into other products. Innisfree is doing this program in partnership with TerraCycle. In exchange for returning these items, consumers receive points via the Innisfree loyalty program.
Click here to read more about the Innisfree Recycling Program.
KIEHL’S | Recycle & Be Rewarded
Kiehl’s customers receive a “stamp” for every full-size product they recycle in-store. Once a customer accumulates 10 stamps, he or she can redeem a trial-sized product (value of up to $11.00 USD). In other words, for every 10 empty, full-size products a customer returns to store, he or she can receive one trial-sized product.
Deluxe samples and other complementary products can be returned and recycled, but these items do not go towards a customer’s stamps. Additionally, a customer may only redeem their stamps for one free product during a given month.
To read more about the program click here.
LUSH | 5 Pot Program
As devoted LUSH fans already know, the black pots at LUSH are made entirely from recycled material. Consumers are eligible to receive a free Fresh Face Mask if they return 5 empty, clean black pots in-store.
Click here to read more about the 5 Pot Program.
M.A.C. | Back to M.A.C.
Arguably the most well-known beauty recycling program, M.A.C.’s Back to M.A.C. program enables customers to return used product packaging. Once a customer returns 6 products (either online or in-store), he or she is eligible to receive a complimentary lipstick. However, unlike the aforementioned programs, customers need to bring back all 6 old products at the same time.
However, the brand offers additional incentives to customers who are enrolled in the brand’s M.A.C. Lover Loyalty Program. Customers enrolled in M.A.C. Lover can redeem their 6 returned products for one lipstick, lip glass, or single shadow. M.A.C. Lovers can return products in-store at their own pace and M.A.C. will keep track of the number of products they’ve returned.
Click here to read more about the Back to M.A.C program.
ORIGINS | Return to Origins
Did you know that Origins was the first brand in the beauty industry to offer a recycling program specifically for cosmetic packaging? The Return to Origins program, which launched in 2009, enabled customers to recycle empty primary packaging to any of its retail stores or department store locations.
Although the brand will take back most primary packaging, the following items CANNOT be returned to Origins: paper boxes or plastic wrapping, sample or trial size packaging, and applicators like sponges or tools like tweezers.
Click here to read more about Origins commitment to recycling.
Hopefully, more CPG and beauty brands will follow suit and begin offering similar recycling programs. Global plastic waste is a huge problem, but through programs like this consumers can reduce their impact on the environment.
How do you recycle your beauty-related plastics? Would you try any of the above programs? Please let me know in the comments below.