John Lewis launches empty beauty product recycling trial

A new trial will see my John Lewis members rewarded with £5 off a beauty purchase when they bring empty beauty products and packaging from any brand into a shop.

John Lewis and partners is working with TerraCycle, which says the global cosmetics industry produces 120 billion units of packaging each year and “very little” of this packaging is accepted by local recycling programmes.

Many beauty products are designed to be squeezable, twistable and portable and often contain caps, labels and pumps which make them harder to recycle.

TerraCycle takes empty beauty packages and separates them into metals, fibres and plastics.

Each component part is then recycled, composted or in the case of plastics, made into pellets which can be molded into new products like storage containers, plastic lumber and outdoor furniture.

Our customers are becoming more mindful about what they buy and what happens to products once they’ve reached the end of their first life.

Laure Cucuron, General Manager for TerraCycle Europe, said: “Very few beauty products or beauty product packaging, outside of say plastic bottles, are accepted by most council kerbside recycling systems due to the complexity of the material.”

The scheme accepts all types of packaging, from shampoo bottles and caps to lotion bottles and jars, lip gloss and mascara tubes.

The only packaging not accepted by the scheme is aerosol cans, nail varnish bottles and fragrance bottles, due to their potential flammability.

The beauty recycling trial is part of John Lewis’ Better Way of Doing Business.

One element of this is that John Lewis is experimenting with new services which help customers “responsibly dispose of products when they are finished with them”.

“Mindful” customers

Martyn White, senior sustainability manager at John Lewis & Partners, said: “Our customers are becoming more mindful about what they buy and what happens to products once they’ve reached the end of their first life.

“Beauty products are notoriously hard to recycle which can make it hard for customers to know what to do with them, which often means they end up being thrown in the bin.

“One of our key aims is to make ‘being sustainable’ as easy as possible for customers, so it doesn’t have to be a difficult choice.

“The BeautyCycle trial will help us to do just that, enabling customers to shop and enjoy beauty products in a more sustainable way, ensuring the materials are re-used in the best way possible.”

The month-long trial began 14 June and all John Lewis shops with full-line beauty services will take part (36 shops) using TerraCycle’s Zero Waste Box solution.

The trial’s purpose is to understand customer demand for beauty recycling, with a wider ambition to make the scheme permanent if successful.

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