How to recycle beauty products - the handy bookmark and stop guide

How to recycle beauty products – the handy bookmark and stop guide

Happy Global Recycling Day. First introduced back in 2018, today is all about educating people about the importance of recycling for preserving our planet. This year people are shouting that recycling is the seventh resource of the earth, one that will live the finite natural resources that run fast.

Sometimes it’s hard to realize just how horrible the extent of the devastation that plastics has on the planet, especially our oceans. That said, documentary like Blue Planet II Have opened our eyes. According to Global Citizen, in late 2018, 88% of those who saw it have completely changed their relationship with plastic. They called the episode, ‘a key moment that ignites the war on plastics.’

We have certainly noticed more reusable water bottles on our commute and in the office – some people have a week completely plastic-free and huge brands like Waitrose do very little to reduce their plastic waste.

So, does this mean that we are nailing down our recycling routines? Apparently not like, according to research conducted by Garnier, 56% of Britons do not recycle their toiletries and around 95% of our empties still finish in landfill.

It is thought that it is partly due to us being used to having two bins in our kitchen, that it is almost second nature to separate our recyclable goods. But the other issue is the complexity of bathroom products; A hand soap bottle and an eyeshadow palette are a little more confusing that the plastic container your mushrooms come in.

“Beauty product packaging is often composed of a variety of types of material,” explains Stephen Clarke, Head of Communications at Tericycle Europe. “For example – mirrored glass, cardboard sleeves, paper inserts, expanded plastic foam and more have been known to be used in cosmetics packaging – sometimes all in one item.” This makes recycling them incredibly difficult.

“120 billion units of packaging are produced each year by the global cosmetics industry,” Clark continues. Of these, very few plastic waste items generated in the bathroom are accepted by most public curbside recycling programs. The most common beauty products and packaging contribute to the world’s growing plastic waste problem and, without adequate recovery solutions, are tracked for landfills, burned, buried or simply littered where waste management is insufficient. Many plastic waste items find their way into oceans and waterways, compounding the problem with environmental hazards. ‘

Recycling beauty products

The Sustainable Beauty Coalition has always championed cleaning the packaging act of beauty. On the subject Jayn Sterland, chairman of the organization, says: ‘I strongly believe that this needs to be a two-way street, a partnership between brand and consumer to together do the right thing across the planet. As consumers, we need to make sure we discard products in a way that does not add to the current environmental problem. ‘

We need to make sure that where we can, we recycle our beauty products properly. Below is our guide to what can be recycled and what should only be thrown in the normal bin. When in doubt, throw it out.

This is important, says Stephen Clarke, because “beauty products and packaging that cannot be recycled through the public system will not only be diverted to landfill or incineration anyway, they slow down the system and have the potential to contaminate bale of secondary material. “This is important because we need to improve the system to create a circular economy for plastics.”

How to recycle your beauty products


So many beauty products, like fragrances and new makeup products, are wrapped in cellophane. Annoying, this can not be recycled and should be put in your normal trash.

Plastic bottles

Plastic bottles, like shampoos, conditioners and shower gels, are accepted by most recycling programs. However, make sure that you have emptied and cleaned them out first. You can also leave the lids on as they can be recycled, unless it is a trigger head or a pump. These will need to go in your normal train. If you have not fully finished your conditioner, do so No Pour it down the sink. Instead, get out there as much as possible and put it in your standard trash. (The same goes with any product that you have a little left of.)


Yes, hairspray and deodorants can be recycled in most household collection schemes. But make sure they are fully finished before recycling them.

Mascara, lipstick, makeup palette (eye shadow, bronzer, blusher)

Annoyingly, these are too complicated to recycle. However, TerraCycle has partnered with GarnieTo create a free recycling program for beauty packaging, and they can be taken to one of their allocated drop off locations. Find your nearest one Here. They will also take sheets masks and their wrappers, face wipes and their packets, trigger sprays, pumps, pipettes, roll-on deodorants.

Glass jars

Harry! As long as these have been emptied and cleaned, they are free to be popped into your recycling bin.

Cotton pads

This is an interesting one, because they have come under a bit of criticism for being as bad for the environment as face wipes, but in actual reality these can be recycled with your food waste. So after taking your makeup off, take them immediately into the kitchen to throw away.

Hair tools

If your tools still work, check with your local charity store if they will take them. If they are broken, they can be recycled to a specific center. To find your local, click Here.

For hair straighteners specifically, Cloud Nine recently launched their own iron recycling service. They will recycle or reuse your old hair tools, free, and regardless of the brand or when / where they were purchased. Simply download a pre-paid recycling label, put your straighteners in a box and go to the post office. You can find out more about this scheme at

Nail varnish, fragrance bottles, make-up brushes

These can not be recycled, so should only be put in the standard trash train.

Toothbrush and toothpaste

Do not put these in your recycling bin, there are special drop-off locations (which can be found) Here) Which were founded by TerraCycle and Colgate.

What else can you do?

  • TerraCycle has also paired with brands like Communitys, L’Occitane and The Body Shop. These brands accept old beauty containers and will recycle them for your behalf. There are often freebies and discounts if you do this.
  • Get your hands on a Tericycle Zero Waste Box – For a price they send an empty box to your house, you fill it with your beauty empties (shampoo bottles and caps, conditioner bottles and caps, hair gel tubes and caps, non-pressurized hair spray bottles, hair paste plastic jars and caps , Lip balm tubes, face soap dispensers and tubes, lotion bottles, lotion tubes, lotion dispensers and jars, non-pressurized shaving foam tubes, lip gloss tubes, mascara tubes, eye liner pencils and cases, eye shadow tubel tubes, cons ) And then send it back to them to recycle it all.
  • Download the Sustainable Beauty Coalition Planet Positive Beauty Guide. The guide gives you evidence-based tips on how to make more sustainable choices. Whether you need to brush up on what certifications you should keep an eye on or want to learn more about the brands that are dedicated to improving society, this beauty dictionary will get you there in no time.
  • Buy products that are packaged in highly recycled materials, such as pet bottles
  • Purchase from brands that offer a refillable service or reusable packaging

Brands do very little

RN Skincare

Wren is 100% zero waste. The team stopped the use of single-use sheets over their entire product line back in 2018, which saved 4.4 million of the pesky plastics from entering landfill. It has always worked in tandem with global recycling guidelines to keep 16 tons from harming the planet.


Back in 2019 Liberty launched Conscious Beauty. Over, there was a drop-off point where you could take your packaging to be collected and recycled. They also always champion all their brands that do what they can to be more sustainable.

Neil’s Yard

Neal’s Yard Remedies has always been at the forefront of cutting back on plastics. Since the 1980s, the brand has never used plastic micro-beads in their products and played a key part in the success ban of them in the UK. The team has also launched recycling and refilling in store.

The Body Shop

The Body Shop, renowned for its ethical trading initiatives, has teamed up with Tech Business Plastics for change And Hasiru Dala, a local Indian NGO and social enterprise, to buy 250 tonnes of plastic collected by waste pickers in Bangalore this year, which will rise to 500 tonnes by 2020. The recycled plastic will be used to make the bottle of their hair care Ranges. There are also recycling points in store.


L’Occitane has tricycle collection points in their stores and has sponsored beach cleans across the UK, from Brighton to Edinburgh.


The department store has been doing its bit to save our oceans for the last ten years with Project Ocean. Along with banning the sale of endangered fish, the team has created a marine reserve in the Philippines. To celebrate the 10th anniversary of Project Ocean in Selfridges – which has since grown to become Project Earth.

If this is not enough, here are some products to get your hands on what are …… ..

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