Beauty is in the eye of the recycler

Thinking of buying your Mum a cosmetics or skin care gift card for Mother’s Day? While you are showing well-earned appreciation for your Mum, you can also show how much you love the planet by choosing products that will not end up in landfill.

Only about 16 per cent of Australia’s plastic packaging is recycled properly, and amid all those tonnes going to landfill is a lot of cosmetic packaging. It makes sense: most of us have at least two bins in the kitchen to separate waste, but not many do this in the bathroom.

Add to that the complexity of bathroom products; you know what to do with a plastic bag, but how do you recycle your eyeshadow palette? Unfortunately, because these items are often made from several materials such as glass, plastic and foam, they won’t be accepted in kerbside recycling and will end up in landfill.

Here’s a quick checklist of what can and can’t be recycled: 

  • Plastic bottles: If you can see a recycling symbol on the bottle, empty and clean it before putting it in the yellow bin. Lids can also be recycled, unless it’s a trigger head or a pump. These will need to go in your normal bin. 
  • Personal care, lip care and beauty care: Unfortunately these are too complicated to recycle through your kerbside bin. However if you choose Burt’s Bees, Edible Beauty, innisfree, Jeuneora, Jurlique, Kiehl’s or LÓccitane, their products are recyclable for free through TerraCycle.
  • Nail varnish and fragrance bottles: Due to the level of contamination of these bottles, and the colour of most perfume bottles, these cannot be recycled.
  • Toothbrushes and toothpaste: These can’t go in your yellow bin, but you can sign up to TerraCycle and Colgate’s Oral Care Recycling Program, which accepts all brands of oral care waste. 
  • Cellophane: Many beauty products, such as perfumes and make-up, come wrapped in cellophane. Unfortunately, this cannot be recycled and should be put in your normal bin.

TerraCycle’s free recycling programs often come with recycling incentives such as donations to charity or discounts with your brand in return for recycling.

TerraCycle also offers a Beauty Products and Packaging Zero Waste Box, which you can fill with all your beauty empties (no need to sort them first) and then send it back for recycling. The cost includes delivery of the box to you and return postage to TerraCycle. 

While you’re spoiling your Mum this Mother’s Day, spare a thought for Mother Earth as well.

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