How to Recycle Beauty Products to Help Save the Planet

As a beauty addict, I use an overwhelming amount of beauty products, and I’ll admit that I haven’t been the best at making sure I recycle the empty bottles. This is a problem, because not recycling these non-biodegradable items, contributes to waste in landfills which emits carbon gas into our atmosphere, and contaminates fresh ocean waters. According to the EPA, 1/3 of landfill waste is created by personal care products, and we have the power to reduce this by simply taking a few extra steps to dispose of beauty packaging correctly. When I realized I needed to do my part, I began researching all the different ways I could reduce my carbon footprint, and I want to share the information with you, so that you too can join me in helping protect our planet.

Non-Brand Specific Programs

Teracycle – Through a partnership with Garnier, you can send in cleaned hair care, skin care, and cosmetic product packaging from any brand, which earns you points that can be redeemed for a donation to a charity or school. For the month of April, their partnership with Burts Bees will also allow you to send in personal care, lip care, and beauty care packaging from any brand as well. All you have to do is sign up on their website, print the UPS shipping label, gather up your empties in a box and mail it for free. It really is that simple. I did it this week and can vouch for the quick and easiness of the process. If you want to skip the post office, you can also browse the list of program drop-off locations available to find one near you.

Recycling at home – This is obviously the easiest option but there are some things to consider. First, make sure your container is actually empty – don’t throw a half jar of product in the recycling bin. Second, you must rinse out or wipe clean your empties. But, you don’t have to go crazy and make it squeeky clean, especially when it comes to shampoos and laundry detergents, where the residual soap can be used by plant facilities. Failing to rinse out a product may result in the product being sent to a landfill to avoid it contaminating other recyclables. Third, look for the triangle symbol that has a number inside – the numbers are listed from one to seven, and indicate the type of plastic used. The most recyclable plastics have the numbers 1 or 2. Check out the diagram below from Ocean Conservancy for more information.

L’Occitane Recycling Program – Through a partnership with Teracycle, you can bring empty, full-sized beauty and skin care products from L’Occitane or any beauty brand to the brand’s store be recycled. As a reward, you’ll receive 10% off a new full-sized product.

Origins – Origins recycles cosmetic empties from any brand. Simply drop of the cleaned packaging at any of the brand’s stores.

Toms of Maine – Through a partnership with Tearcycle, you can recycle mouthwash bottles and caps, deodorant containers and caps, toothpaste tubes and caps, soap packaging, floss containers, and toothbrushes, regardless of the brand.

lilah b. – Email to receive a prepaid return shipping label to send unwanted beauty products – lilah b. or otherwise.

Credo Beauty – You can bring your empties to your local Credo store to be recycled via Teracycle and receive 10 points per full size recycled product.

Customer Brand-Specific Programs

In case you use products form the specific brands below, here are their recycling programs. This is a running list that I’ll keep updating. If you know of a brand that has a recycling program I don’t have listed, contact me via email or comment on this post and I’ll add it.

Pacifica Beauty – Through a partnership with Preserve you can send in empty and rinsed products from the brand using pre-paid shipping labels they provide to you. The items are then used to create personal care items such as toothbrushes, which the company sells at a low price. Additionally, customers who participate in the program receive 10 loyalty points.

M·A·C – If you’re a MAC girl who’s also into sustainability, M·A·C accepts returns of its primary packaging through the Back-to-M·A·C Program. You have to wait until you use at least 6 products, though, and upon return you’ll receive a free M·A·C lipstick of your choice. The program is only available in stores.

Kiehl’s – You can return any empty Kiehl’s bottles at the brand’s freestanding stores as part of its Recycle & Be Rewarded program. Each time to return an item you receive a stamp. When you collect up to 10 stamps, you’ll get one free travel-sized product.

Lush – When you return five clean, empty Lush pots to a shop, you’ll score a free fresh face mask.

Aveda – While you don’t get rewarded, you can bring beauty product packaging that isn’t accepted through your local curbside program to one of their stores and they will recycle them for you.


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