Recycling Beauty products isn’t as easy as you’d think. Lots of packaging contains thick plastic (to protect formulas from degradation), mixed metals, and springs all in one shot. Since different materials need to be separated and sorted, the mixed-media nature of cosmetics, skin-care, and hair-care packaging makes recycling these suckers a logistical nightmare. Thankfully, a few forward-thinking companies have programs in place to assist.
Since 2009, Kiehl's has offered its Recycle and Be Rewarded program in its retail stores, which encourages customers to return ten empty bottles, tubes, and jars in exchange for a new product. Empties can be dropped off anytime — the store will track your exchanges as you go. What’s more, through May 1, the brand will donate $1 to Recycle Across America (up to $15,000) for every empty product returned. So far, the brand has reclaimed and recycled 3.3 million containers.
Beauty giant MAC offers a similar program via its Back to MAC program. After returning six of the brand’s containers, either online or to a MAC counter, the brand hands over a free lipstick of your choice. The program also features digital tracking, which means you can recycle items as you finish them, instead of having to hoard empties to participate.
Finally, Garnier also takes back empties of its Fructis products for recycling via TerraCycle. Any Garnier product with the TerraCycle logo can be sent into the company for recycling. Once received, the hair-care brand recycles the container and donates two cents to the charity of your choice. The extra step may sound like a pain in the ass, until you account for this fact: According to Garnier, personal care and beauty products account for 1/3 of all landfill waste. Yikes! To help raise its recycling numbers, the brand is partnering with DoSomething.org on its Rinse, Recycle, Repeat campaign, aimed at educating college students about recycling beauty product empties, with a goal of diverting a total of 10 million bottles from landfills by the end of 2017.
Kiehl's Calendula & Aloe Soothing Hydration Mask, $45, available at Kiehl's.