How to recycle beauty product packaging to reduce waste

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“My love of beauty products was a harmless habit – except for my bank account! – but when I was spring-cleaning my bathroom shelves, I was really upset by the amount of things that couldn’t be How can I reduce my footprint without killing the buzz for my new beauty product?”—Guilty in Guelph, Ont.

Recycling day always makes me sad. Does everyone keep a bag of random things that you know will never be recycled? Does @thehomeedit make a trash can for this?

In a special report last year, The Kit’s beauty director, Katherine Lalancette, did the math on Canadian beauty product waste with a Greenpeace spokesperson: They estimated that 773 million personal care containers plastic ends up in landfill here every year. Globally, the beauty industry generates 120 billion cosmetic packages a year, according to estimates by US green beauty empire Credo Beauty, launched by former Sephora executives.

How does one person go about making a difference? I had a long and informative conversation with Toronto skincare entrepreneur Graydon Moffat, and hung up feeling more optimistic than guilty. She explained that there are short-term options, like more and better programs for hard-to-recycle items, and longer-term solutions on the manufacturing side are starting to take shape.

Here’s a quick look at the current state of beauty product recycling options for consumers: Many glass jars and plastic containers can be recycled curbside, if you wash the product (check your local program for more details; in Toronto you can search for the Waste Wizard tool to see what can go in).

However, there are limits. “Most municipal recycling is wish cycles,” says Moffatt. Indeed, lids, sprayers, springs, droppers and all small components can only be recycled by specialized companies, so wash them and collect them and look for a collection bin for them. New to check out is Pact Collective – you can drop empty beauty products in their bins at Hudson’s Bay branches or mail them in (go to pactcollective.org).

“Most municipal recycles are wish cycles.”

Many stores now have TerraCycle boxes where you can drop empty beauty products from any brand to reuse or recycle: find one at Nordstrom and Nordstrom Rack, The Detox Market, Holt Renfrew, Deciem, L ‘Occitane or Pure + Simple.

You can bring Aveda, MAC, Kiehl’s, and Lush empties back to the store to deposit in their own recycling boxes, and some places offer incentives to do so. Lush, of course, is also a long-time pioneer in packaging-free products, and more and more companies are offering shampoo and conditioner bars in simple cardboard packaging like Montreal’s Attitude.

Rest assured, many brands are now doing the work to switch to more responsible practices on their side. “I feel guilty too,” says Moffat, a former vegan chef with a background in corporate food production, who launched her beauty line, Graydon Skincare, in her kitchen sink. Many of its superfood formulas are made with recycled ingredients from food production, like blueberry seeds in its Berry Rich cream. Today, his line is sold in The Detox Market and Credo, which means his “small Canadian brand” must comply with those retailers’ strict clean ingredient standards, as well as emerging packaging requirements. measurable sustainability.

“Everything is changing,” Moffat says of the transition to eco-responsible packaging. “We’re in muddy water right now.”

Indie brands are leading the way, says The Detox Market founder Romain Gaillard, and it’s a crowded field. “With so many brands launching each week, we’re seeing more innovation and commitment to recyclable and biodegradable packaging.” Smaller brands can be more nimble, he says, because even though mass brands are committed to recyclable and sustainable packaging, they “have to go through some of the packaging they bought two or three years ago.” Economies of scale are hard to retool along the way.

Moffat says the best eco-packaging options are much more expensive to source in small quantities, especially for an independent brand in a business with tough margins – and that illustrates the hard fact that we as consumers have to also face in our purchasing choices. “Making the changes we want is very risky,” Moffat says, citing the fact that the 100% post-consumer recycled glass she wants to use for her hero serums can cost an extra $2 per bottle, or three times the price. price of ordinary glass. . Similarly, consumers must be prepared to pay a little more for items that match their values. “When you support independent brands, you’re part of the team with them and have a vested interest in their efforts,” Moffat says.

Switching to post-consumer recycled plastic comes with its own challenges: it can be more brittle and often discolors; virgin plastic is much easier to work with. “But I also realized that if I don’t make these changes, I won’t have a business,” Moffat says. “You have to follow the path of sustainability.”

For its part, The Detox Market, which has three stores in Toronto, one in New York and two in Los Angeles, aims to become plastic neutral by 2023. To that end, Gaillard says, “for every pound of plastic sold via The Detox Market, an equal amount of nature-related plastic will be collected and disposed of appropriately, either recycled or reused.”

He also sees refillable container programs in the cards for the future of luxury beauty, citing Kjaer Weis, La Bouche Rouge, Tata Harper and Pharrell Williams’ new Humanrace brand as early adopters. Beautycounter and Charlotte Tilbury also offer refillable products, as do various perfume counters. It means committing to a product you love and fulfilling it for the long haul.

Nothing and no one is perfect yet. Take comfort in knowing that there are brands out there fighting for your hearts and wallets by playing the long game when it comes to durability, and doing the same with your vacuums, as best you can.

Buy the tips

Here are a few Canadian independent brands working hard to transition to eco-friendly packaging and practices.

GraydonGraydon Skincare Fullmoon Serum, $87, thedetoxmarket.ca

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This popular serum adds radiance, smoothes fine lines, and nourishes skin with vitamin C-rich moringa, butterfly bean extract, and coffee. The bottle is made from 50% post-consumer recycled glass and $1 from every sale is donated to the Ocean Legacy Foundation.

everistEverist Waterless Body Wash Concentrate, $28, helloeverist.com

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A Toronto-based company has created this concentrated shower gel scented with bergamot, rosemary and peppermint. Just add water in the shower! It comes in a recyclable aluminum tube with a size zero tube key to squeeze every drop and there is a cap return program.

AttitudeAttitude Nourishing Conditioner Leaves Bar, $15, attitudeliving.com

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This Montreal brand offers exceptional quality bar shampoos and conditioners for various hair purposes (nourishing, volumizing, detoxifying) and they come in recycled cardboard packaging.

three shipsThree-Vessel Dewdrops, $45, well.ca

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Another Toronto start-up that made the cut at Detox Market and Credo. Dew Drops Hydrating Serum is Three Ships’ flagship product, made with hyaluronic acid from mushrooms and recycled bark extracts, a by-product of the Quebec wood industry. In 2022, the brand promises that all its plastic components will be made of at least 30% PCR and that they will also become climate neutral.

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