Want to reduce your carbon footprint? Find out the types of plastics that can commonly be recycled and where to recycle them.
Recycling beauty products is crucial when it comes to protecting the environment, giving old products a new life, and needing fewer resources.
In this article, we cover the types of plastics and other materials that can commonly be recycled, items that can’t be recycled, where and how to recycle these items, other tips and recommendations for easy recyclable products.
Each plastic type is distinguished and separated based on the chemical makeup and codes associated with them. In total, there are 7 different types of plastic, however, there are three types that are specifically used for cosmetics which include the following:
1. Polyethylene (PP)
This is the most common which is used for bottle caps, jars and other cosmetic products. Polyethylene is one of the most commonly used microplastics in cosmetic products such as eyeliners, mascara, eye shadows, eyebrow pencils, lipsticks, face powders and foundations, as well as skin cleansers and skin care products.
This is known as acrylic or acrylic glass which is a lightweight and shatter resistant alternative to glass. This is utilized in cosmetic packaging including lipsticks, compact containers and mascara.
3. Acrylonitrile butadiene styrene (ABS)
On plastic packages, there is often a number which indicates the kind of plastic the package is made from.
- 1 stands for PET or PETE plastics, which are almost always recyclable.
- 2 stands for HDPE plastics, which are also almost always recyclable.
- 3–7 plastics must be checked locally, as they aren’t widely accepted at municipal recycling centers.
- 5s, or polypropylene plastics, are being accepted in more communities. A lot of beauty products are made from this material, so be sure to check if your area accepts it.
Note: you still must take color and size into account. A black plastic cap can’t be tossed in the recycling bin, even if it’s made of recyclable plastic.
What can be recycled?
The less material your product is made out of, the more it is recyclable. The more material means the more costly and difficult when it comes to the separation process.
- If your product is made out of glass, plastic or cardboard, you can rinse it and put it in the recycling bin. Note: it depends on what region you reside in.
- It is also important to thoroughly rinse out your recyclable containers. Products with residue can attract bugs which lower the value of the finished recycled product.
- You should also try to remove any labels on the container, especially if it is paper labels which can be recyclable itself. To determine if the labels can be recycled, they have to be FSC certified, printed with soy ink, etc.
- Most dry shampoo and hairspray cans are made out of steel aluminum which can be recycled. But it is always good to check your local rules first to see if aerosol is acceptable.
- Choose metal or glass materials as much as possible because they are more likely to be recycled. They also don’t degrade into harmful microplastics.
- Most boxes and outer paper packages can be recycled as long as they don’t contain any extra materials or heavy coatings.
What can’t be recycled?
Usually, small items or containers like lipsticks or a 6-ounce package size doesn’t flow well through curbside recycling programs. It will most likely get caught in the disposal or get missed by sorting machines and thrown in the trash.
Furthermore, pouches and squeezable tubes can’t be recycled due to its multi layer or multi material format. This means there is a coating or film inside the package or it is made up of different types of plastic. If the package doesn’t explicitly state to recycle, flexible pouches like face masks and toothpaste tubes should be thrown in the trash.
Specifically, here is a list of non-recyclables:
- Shampoo and conditioner caps
- Hair gel tubes and caps
- Hair spray triggers
- Hair paste caps
- Lip balm tubes and caps
- Soap tubes
- Body wash caps
- Lotion caps
- Lipstick cases
- Lip gloss tubes
- Mascara tubes
- Eyeliner pencils
- Eyeshadow tubes
- Concealer tubes
- Concealer sticks
- Lip liner pencils
Where do I recycle these items?
When it comes to what is recyclable, different areas and cities have their own rules. You should check your local government website to see the restrictions for your community. This is because the materials recovery system has to be in agreement with the recycling collecting program. Moreover, it also has to do with the market that community sells those materials to and what they’re willing to accept.
- Look into refillable beauty product programs to reuse packages several times, thus, producing less waste.
- Avoid single-use wipes and cotton rounds. Instead, try reusable rounds and muslin cloths that you can easily toss in with your laundry instead of creating more waste.
- Look into recycling programs that allow customers to bring in used products where they are cleaned and separated into metals, glass and plastics, before being recycled or repurposed into new materials.
- When you’ve finished that bottle of brightening serum or cleanser, disassemble it into the parts that can be recycled (i.e., the plastic bottle or glass container itself) and the parts that need to be thrown away (the dropper cap or spray top).
- If a plastic package has the number 1 or 2 on it, the item can be picked up through most curbside recycling programs. Note: make sure to check your local government website.
Easy to recycle skincare products
The best way to help the planet is to buy products that come in sustainable packaging. PoweredByPlant has the best eco-friendly beauty products that are also 100% vegan, cruelty free and filled with plant-powered, non toxic ingredients.
Do you want to keep your skin plump and moisturized? This is the perfect product for you! This Organic Face Serum with Coffee Oil Serum forms a protective seal over your skin which makes a perfect moisturizer for all skin types. It also comes with high standards of sustainable ingredient sourcing – they are certified by COSMOS and Soil Association.
The serum is housed in a glass bottle with a PP cap, rubber bulb and glass pipette and comes in a cardboard box. All packaging is 100% recyclable! There is also a refillable option for this product and you can find it here.
Have dry and sensitive skin? This product contains anti-inflammatory properties which soothes redness and irritation. Simply, use this scrub two to three times a week to leave your skin feeling soft, flowy and smooth skin!
This floral coffee scrub is housed in a100% aluminum tube with PP cap and comes in a cardboard box with no plastic. All packaging is 100% recyclable!
Kansoskin tubes are 100% recyclable. Their eComm shipping mailers are made of recycled FSC-certified paper that is also 100% recyclable and biodegradable. When being shipped out, the products are wrapped in a 3D honeycomb kraft paper with tissue interleaf paper, making it a biodegradable and recyclable alternative to traditional bubble wrap. The paper chosen for packaging is also made from FSC-certified paper that’s not laminated with a layer of plastic coating (even though a glossy look is more aesthetically pleasing) and printed with soy ink so that they can be easily recycled.
Easy to recycle body care products
If you work out a lot or you simply need something to feel fresh and energized after a long day, this scrub is more than satisfying. It is infused with lemongrass, lime and coconut essential oils that remove dead cells on your skin, leaving it soft, smooth, and refreshed.
The scrub comes in a recyclable glass jar with an aluminum lid and a cardboard box. All packaging is 100% recyclable!
Unlike your basic bar of soap, the soapaholic body bar is powered with himalayan pink salt crafted to refresh and nourish your skin.
All soaps contain no microbeads and have 100% plastic free packaging. They also have 10x less carbon footprint than a bottle of liquid soap because they contain no toxic ingredients, reduce wastewater, are lighter, and cost-efficient.
What’s better than an uplifting cold-pressed body oil after a warm shower? This oil is light that sinks quickly into your skin, leaving it looking healthy and glowing with no grease.
This product comes in a glass bottle and minimal packaging. They also actively reuse packing materials like bubble wraps and boxes.
You can check out more sustainable beauty products from PoweredByPlant here.