Waste in the Beauty Industry (And What You Can Do About It)


How the Beauty Industry Affects the Environment

The beauty and cosmetics industries are less-than-pretty when it comes to their impact on the world’s oceans, air quality, and overall environment. In just one year, the beauty industry produces more than 120 billion units of cosmetics packaging globally. Considering a massive 95% of beauty packaging is discarded after just one use, you can imagine how much product ends up in a landfill — 79% to be exact. Of the 120 billion units of cosmetics packaging produced each year, 146 million tons of plastic is generated. Plastic is virtually indestructible, lasting longer than any of our lifetimes and increasingly swamping our ocean shores with debris.

Even more, just 9% of all plastic waste ever produced has been recycled, meaning the rest is scattered between landfills, dumps, and the environment around us. Plus, the glamorous packaging we have come to know and love also creates an excess of paper, cardboard, and cellophane waste. The manufacturing of such products contributes to global deforestation and increases both water consumption and CO2 emissions.

Start Recycling Beauty Packaging

The good news is that beauty brands are starting to respond, albeit slowly. Beauty packaging can be recycled. The tricky part is that each type of packaging has its own recycling guidelines.

Plastic Containers: Give the container a good clean to remove excess product and leave any labels on to allow your recycling team to identify if any ingredients are contaminating the plastic.

Glass Jars: Rinse the jar or container well to remove any residue and recycle with the top on. Bear in mind, nail polish bottles cannot be recycled.

Aerosol Cans: Ensure the can is completely empty and discard any easily removable parts like the lid or nozzle.

Each brand and each product may have its own intentions and guidelines. Most important is that we - the consumer and the manufacturer - can collectively do our part and make a positive change on planet earth, one product at a time!