How beauty and personal care brands can help you care for the planet

In 2015, an image of a turtle with a straw up its nose transformed plastic pollution — 8-12 million metric tons of which is estimated to pour into oceans every year— from an out of sight, out of mind concept into a huge environmental issue people connect with around the world.

Part of this tidal wave of awareness focused on the importance of recycling and reuse in reducing plastic waste. While the focus has long been on keeping empty products and packaging produced in the kitchen out of landfills, paying attention to what happens to the personal care items in our bathrooms is a huge way to make a difference!

Did you know more than 70 percent of beauty product discards end up in landfills? The ugly truth about beauty and personal care packaging is that very few, even those made up entirely of plastic, are curbside recyclable due to their size, colour and/or complexity. This comes at the expense of our environment. 

Australians across the country are doing their best to reduce their waste but it can be frustrating to figure out what items can and can’t go in the yellow bin. Smaller items, packages with many pieces (such as tiny plastic pump tops with metal springs), and plastics that are not clear or white are generally considered non-recyclable. 

While the global recycling system as we know it declines, assisted by COVID, conscious brands are transitioning to refillables, reusables, and using more PCR (post-consumer recycled) plastic to make a positive impact in the beauty packaging world.

For example, as part of their commitment to make 75 percent of all its packaging refillable, reusable or recyclable by 2025, the acclaimed skin solutions company Rodan + Fields (R+F) now offers its customers in Australia the opportunity to collect and recycle their empty product containers through TerraCycle for free.

The brand invites collectors to download a prepaid label to ship to TerraCycle empty R+F product containers; to reduce the environmental impacts of transportation from the program, larger shipments make it an even bigger win for the planet. TerraCycle will clean, separate, and transform the items into raw plastic materials companies like R+F can use for new products.

This new initiative is part of R+F’s larger Environmental Social Governance (ESG) commitment to “Philanthropy, People and the Planet” — including the use of sustainable materials and reducing waste wherever possible. The launch of the program in Australia coincides with the program’s expansion to Canada, following the brand launching the free recycling program in the United States last year.

Empty is not the end! Personal care and cosmetics brands have heard you and are actively creating more eco-friendly ways to help reduce our environmental impacts. Your favourite brands will make a change if you let them know what’s important to you. By choosing brands committed to recycling, you help to create a more beautiful beauty industry—and planet— now and for the future. 

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