The Beauty Industry – how to help with recycling

Ever since that final episode of Blue Planet II aired in December 2017, we have known just how horrific the extent of the devastation that plastics has on our planet, especially our oceans.

We have certainly noticed more reusable water bottles being widely used and some people have gone a week completely plastic-free.  Big name brands are also becoming more involved to do their bit!

So, does this mean that we are nailing our recycling routines? According to research carried out by Garnier, 56% of Brits don’t recycle their bathroom products. It’s thought to be partly down to us being used to having two bins in our kitchen, that it’s almost second nature to separate our recyclable goods. But the other issue is the complexity of bathroom products.

Beauty product packaging is often composed of a variety of types of material including mirrored glass, cardboard sleeves, paper inserts, expanded plastic foam and more have been known to be used in cosmetics packaging and sometimes all in one item.  Most common beauty products and packaging contribute to the world’s growing plastic waste problem and, without adequate recovery solutions will find their way into oceans and waterways, compounding the problem.

We need to make sure that where we can, we are recycling our beauty products properly. Below is our guide to what can be recycled and what should just be thrown in the normal bin. When in doubt, throw it out.


So many beauty products, like fragrances and new make-up products, come wrapped in cellophane. Annoyingly, this cannot be recycled and should be put in your normal bin.

Plastic bottles

Plastic bottles, like shampoos, conditioners and shower gels, are accepted by most recycling programmes. However, make sure that you have emptied and cleaned them out first. You can also leave the lids on as these can be recycled, unless it’s a trigger head or a pump. These will need to go in your normal bin unless you can go even further and send it to a specialist company who will recycle.  There are plenty out there just research for your area.


Yes, hairsprays and deodorants can be recycled in most household collection schemes. But do make sure they’ve been completely finished before recycling them.

Glass jars

Hooray! As long as these have been emptied and cleaned, these are free to be popped in your recycling bin.

Cotton pads

This is an interesting one, as they have come under quite a bit criticism for being as bad for the environment as face wipes, but in actual fact these can be recycled with your food waste. So, after taking your make-up off, take them straight into the kitchen to throw away OR if it helps you to be more organised just get another small container in your bathroom – even using one of the glass jars you have in your recycling bin!!!

Hair tools

If your tools still work, check with your local charity shop if they’ll take them. If they’re broken, then they can be recycled at a specific centre.

For hair straighteners specifically, Cloud Nine recently launched their own iron recycling service. They’ll recycle or reuse your old straighteners, free of charge, and regardless of the brand or when/where they were purchased. Simply download a pre-paid recycling label, pop your straighteners in a box and take to the Post Office. You can find out more about the scheme at

Nail varnish, fragrance bottles, make-up brushes

These can’t be recycled, so should just be placed in the normal waste bin.

Toothbrushes and toothpaste

Don’t put these in your recycling, there are special drop-off locations that have been set up by TerraCycle and Colgate.

What else can you do?

TerraCycle has also paired with brands like Kiehl’s, L’Occitane and The Body Shop. These brands are accepting old beauty containers and will recycle them on your behalf. There are often freebies and discounts if you do it this way.

Get your hands on a TerraCycle Zero Waste Box – for a price they send an empty box to your house, you fill it with your beauty empties (shampoo bottles and caps, conditioner bottles and caps, hair gel tubes and caps, non-pressurised hair spray bottles, hair paste plastic jars and caps, lip balm tubes, face soap dispensers and tubes, lotion bottles, lotion tubes, lotion dispensers and jars, non-pressurised shaving foam tubes, lip gloss tubes, mascara tubes, eye liner pencils and cases, eye shadow tubes, concealer tubes and sticks) and then send it back to them to recycle it all.

Buy products that are packaged in highly recycled materials, like PET bottles

Buy from brands that offer a refillable service or reusable packaging

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