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Beauty Packaging Recycling

Many readers reposted about the free recycling of snack/candy wrappers through TerraCycle and Subaru (REI), so here is another post about recycling items that ordinarily go straight to the landfill.


My editor and favorite reader recently made me aware of a free option to recycle beauty products, which are traditionally very hard to recycle. Pact Collective is a nonprofit that is not only trying to create more sustainable beauty products, but is also providing a way to collect hard-to-recycle beauty packaging. If you are fortunate enough to live near one of their retail partners (you can enter your address on their website to see), you can bring the empty packaging there. If not, there is a mail-back collection option through which approximately 25 companies participate. Some, like ILIA, don’t charge you anything, while others will ask that you pay for shipping or charge you a flat fee ($5) to cover shipping. We recently contacted ILIA to send back our empties. The whole process was surprisingly simple.


Here are the instructions from Pact Collective:


  1. Go to https://www.pactcollective.org/mail-back-collection-program, and then scroll down to click on the participating member’s logo (to complete the shipping information and contribution if there is one);

  2. Place 5-10 clean, unbagged, and empty, Pact-approved beauty packages from any brand in an envelope or box (reuse one you have!);

  3. Check your email for the shipping label and instructions, and head to the mailbox.


The Pact-approved packages are ANY brand of:


  • Plastic bottles + jars (when SMALLER than a yogurt cup/fist)

  • Squeezable tubes (all sizes of plastic and aluminum)

  • Ceramic + porcelain containers (all sizes)

  • Colored glass bottles and jars (all sizes)

  • Cap/Closures

  • Compacts & Palettes

  • Lipstick and lip gloss tubes, applicators

  • Pumps/dispensers

  • Mascara tubes and wands

  • Droppers and applicators

  • Plastic pencil components (e.g. for eye/lip liner, brow pencils)

  • Toothpaste tubes and dental floss containers

  • Silicone containers (all sizes)

Considering annual sales estimates for the global cosmetic industry are around $500 billion, that creates quite a bit of waste going to landfills. Groups like Pact Collective are trying to find ways to mitigate this challenge. I encourage you to take advantage of this service and share it with others too!


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