The Beauty of Recycling: the current impact, goals & how YOU can help according to TerraCycle

Tom Szaky, CEO and Founder of TerraCycle shares a how-to guide on recycling and how the partnership with The Body Shop can help reduce the beauty industry’s impact on the environment

  • An estimated 35.8 million plastic bottles are used every day in the UK and only 19.8 million are recycled
  • UK recycling rates are up overall in the UK – but personal care and beauty waste is still contributing to the world’s growing plastic problem

To help lessen the impact of beauty packaging waste The Body Shop has partnered with TerraCycle to make recycling boxes available in 230 UK stores (and 672 stores worldwide across 5 countries) to help encourage the recycling of plastic packaging.

Tom Szaky, the CEO and Founder of TerraCycle shares his tips and knowledge of recycling in the UK – and comments on plastics in the beauty industry.

Recycling plastic with Tom Szaky, CEO of TerraCycle

The impact of the beauty industry

Some types of beauty plastic packaging are difficult to recycle. Tom explains:

Everything technically can be recycled, but there are certain aspects of beauty packaging today that are considered difficult-to-recycle and are not accepted through kerbside collection.

Some plastics that are considered hard to recycle:

  • Black and dark plastics – Rigid black plastics aren’t accepted by most Material Recovery Facilities.
  • Anything multi-compositional or multi-material – the thin, flexible stand-up pouches that hold shampoo, bubble bath, lotions and gels are not recyclable kerbside, this is because they jam up machinery and are considered too low value to capture
  • Small items – the add-ons and fitments that give these packages high-function, need to be separated from the rest of the packaging. This is because they are made from different types of plastic but also because they are small and fall through the cracks of the screeners at recycling facilities due to their size. So smaller cosmetic packaging is not deemed recyclable for this reason.

Other methods need to be sourced to ensure this plastic is not ending up in landfill, for example all these types of plastic are recyclable through the TerraCycle recycling programme with The Body Shop.

On recycling in the UK

In recent decades, the UK has been making slow progress on how it manages waste and resources. Recycling rates are up, but mainly for the easier and valuable waste streams, and carbon emissions are holding steady. But there needs to be more ambition to collect, recycle and re-purpose more resources, particularly the harder to recycle and non-profitable types of waste. The planet needs everyone to do more.

The goal is to move to a more circular economy which keeps resources in use for longer – for that to happen; we must reduce, reuse and recycle more than we do now.

The easiest way to recycle is to check what materials / products / packaging you can recycle from home via your council. There is no uniformity across the UK though – some councils will accept different things to others. Follow the instructions issued by your council and include only those items in your recycling boxes / bins. By adding other materials, you increase the risk of contaminating the whole box / bin full, so it doesn’t get recycled.

Where possible, reuse your packaging and purchase higher quality, more durable items that will last many years: rechargeable batteries, woven tote bags or bags for life instead of plastic grocery bags, metal cutlery and ceramic dishware, refillable water bottles – wherever you can make the switch, go durable

Partnering with The Body Shop

We (TerraCycle) are delighted to be working with an iconic brand like The Body Shop to offer consumers the chance to recycle their empty bottles, tubs, tubes and pots.

The focus of reducing waste at home has been largely reserved for the kitchen, but the bathroom, where we take care of ourselves and prepare to look and feel our best; is filled with packaging that simply gets thrown away when used up, making it a category of waste that is often ignored.

With The Body Shop stores, TerraCycle will collect packaging from the boxes clearly marked with ‘Return. Recycle. Repeat’. When full they will be returned to TerraCycle to be recycled and re-purposed.

‘Love your Body Club’ members will also receive a reward worth £5 when returning 5 empty Body Shop bottles as an incentive to recycle.

Learn more about The Body Shop and TerraCycle here:

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