A lot of beauty consumers in Australia don’t realise that kerbside recycling (the regular weekly council collection service) isn’t equipped to properly recycle most beauty product packaging. It’s a confusing concept, especially when you think about the sheer volume of brands who are marketing their products to be housed in “recyclable” materials. But the fact is that almost all beauty packaging requires special treatment, otherwise it inevitably ends up going into landfill. And considering the global cosmetics industry produces more than 120 billion units of packaging per year, it’s a pretty disturbing statistic.
But the good news is that major retailers are getting onboard, and making it easier for consumers to properly recycle their empty products (because ease + access = success). So if you’re wanting to start disposing properly (and of course you are) we’ve compiled everything you need to know.
All paper, cardboard (think outer cartons) and glass can go in your regular at-home recycling bin. Just be sure lids, labels and stickers are removed, as in some instances this can affect eligibility.
TerraCycle is Australia’s largest social enterprise that collect and repurpose otherwise non-recyclable materials, including beauty packaging (think jars and tubs, tubes, makeup containers and similar). To utilise their services, it used to be necessary to drive out to one of their depots, but thankfully many major beauty brands have partnered up with TerraCyle to make it easier for consumers to thoughtfully dispose of their empties. Here’s some of the most notable ones:
L’Occitane: L’Occitane has worked with TerraCycle since 2016, actually making them the first Australian beauty brand to launch a programme. Since they started, it’s estimated the brand has collected over 450,000 pieces of waste. TerraCycle bins can be found at over 75 L’Occitane retail stores nationally, and they accept all brands.
Mecca: As of yesterday, the leading Australian beauty retailer announced a partnership with TerraCycle, whereby 100 Mecca outlets would have the capacity to collect beauty waste. Mecca also accept both Mecca-stocked and outside brands.
David Jones: Just last week, David Jones introduced an initiative called BeautyCycle in partnership with TerraCycle where drop-off boxes are positioned in all stores nation-wide.
Kiehl’s: The iconic skincare brand also has TerraCycle bins in their retail stores, and for every three bottles donated they offer a gift or product sample in return.
Innisfree, Jurlique, The Body Shop, Burt’s Bees, Edible Beauty and Colgate all offer TerraCycle as part of their brand offering as well.
In order to donate to TerraCycle, it’s important to properly clean the packaging and remove all product labelling.
Another sustainable option if to buy from brands who offer refillable packaging. New Zealand-based skincare brand Emma Lewisham offers this service in its new Brighten Your Day Creme, as does Sydney-based beauty brand Foile, where you can refill the same vessel with your favourite organic oils.
Another option is to reuse your empty packaging. Tubs and jars can be turned into succulent planters or a place to store bobby pins. Atomisers can be used to house cleaning products or to mist plants, and smaller bottles can be cleaned and saved for travel.