While our global plastic problem should be a subject we discuss and address all year long, Earth Day is as good an excuse as any to explore new ways to deal with the roughly 300 million tons we consume globally every year—to which the beauty industry is a major contributor. Brands are finally coming up with plastic-free and zero-waste solutions without reducing options down to bar soap format only: biodegradable and compostable containers, refillable solutions and fully recyclable materials. But until we get to a place where zero-waste is the norm, we still have some serious weaning to do to get off our collective plastic addiction. Leading up to Earth Day, a handful of brands are partnering up with recycling companies to put all that plastic to positive use.
At The Body Shop, customers across Canada will be able to return their empty bottles, tubes, jars and tubs in-store to go directly to American recycling giant TerraCycle, who will then ensure that those containers either get recycled into new materials or repurposed into new products. For every five products returned, customers will receive a $10 off Body Shop coupon. “The Body Shop’s long term vision is that our products do not cause harm to people or the environment and can be repurposed,” says Toby Milton, managing director at The Body Shop. “With plastics, our view is that when we do use plastic packaging we want it to be recycled and re-used in the future.” The brand’s long-term goal is to have a “closed loop” on all their packaging by 2030, meaning that 100% of the materials used in Body Shop products will be repurposed and reused.
In a similar partnership with TerraCycle, at Ontario’s Pure + Simple spas, customers who bring in their finished containers will get $1 off the their next purchase for every empty they return. And for eco-concerned shoppers who can’t make it into stores, Weleda is offering a shippable recycling program with TerraCycle, where customers will receive a prepaid shipping label, to be used to send back empty containers from their popular Skin Food line. Participating customers can earn $1 for every pound of waste they send in. Turning their focus to the hundreds of thousands of pounds of waste that comes out of salons and spas—to be exact, 63,180 pounds of hair clippings, 42,122 pounds of hair colour, 109,512 pounds of foil and colour tubes, and 206,392 pounds of paper and plastic across North America on a daily basis—Moroccanoil is working with salon recycling solution Green Circle to recover waste from 2000 partnering salons.
According to Canadian environmental watchdog group Environmental Defence, Canadians only successfully recycle 11 per cent of the plastic we amass yearly, and 60 per cent of the plastic produced globally since it was first introduced in the 1950s has ended up in landfills. “The industry needs to be increasingly mindful of plastic and its uses—eliminating virgin plastics, looking for opportunities for social change through clean-up programs, and reusing and recycling plastic so it does not end up in our oceans and landfills,” Milton says. “The Body Shop’s view is that we need to show plastic more love. Here, love means mindfulness.”