Did you know that we're recycling all wrong?
Statistically around 80% of your recycling is actually ending up in a landfill.
Plastic has been used historically because it is strong, flexible, and cheap but creates an unmanageable amount of waste on land, in the sea, and even in our food; resulting in negative environmental changes and health effects to all living things.
The plastic packaging and container sector makes up the largest portion of plastic pollution recorded at 14.5 million tones out of the total 36 million collected in 2018. Ironically, the beauty industry is one of the main producers of plastic waste and plays a huge role in this ugly issue.
According to Zero Waste Week, the cosmetics industry is responsible for globally producing more than 120 billion units of plastic packaging each year.
The US is currently due for a reassessment of plastic pollution levels especially in retrospect of the environmental impacts left by the Coronavirus Pandemic. However, the US Environmental Protection Agency’s most up to date report shows that in 2018, nearly 36 million tons of plastic waste entered our landfill and only 3,000 tons were recycled.
The reason why reusing plastic is so difficult is because there are so many different types; each composed of a unique chemical combination that cannot be mixed during reproduction and has created a global lack of awareness of the materials that we can actually recycle.
Despite the fact that every city in the US has its own recycling facility that follows specific recycling guidelines based on each certain category of plastic, there are some basic recycling rules that apply to everyone:
1. Clean your Recyclables
We wash our fruits and vegetables to avoid eating dirt, germs, and small insects. During the pandemic, we were washing anything and everything to step outside before bringing it back into the house.
So WHY is washing recyclables any more of an inconvenience? Is it because the effects don’t instantly impact us in a significant way?
The truth is that we are living through pollution and the effects are already being felt...we are just used to it.
All recyclables must be completely washed out with warm water. If the product is not completely used, try to avoid washing it down the drain and save it in a reusable package. I personally save a lot of my plastic containers and reuse them as storage containers.
Labels do not need to be removed because they are burned off during the recycling process. Though it is not required, you may remove and recycle paper labels.
2. Watch Out for Mixed Materials
Recycling facilities do not have the capabilities to sort and reassemble mixed material items that need to be separated before reaching the bin. For example, pump dispensers contain plastic and metal components that need to be separated before going into the recycling bin.
Other products on the list include nail polish and fragrance containers, some colored packaging, colored glasses, and coated containers (like matte coating).
Items like sheet masks, toothpaste packaging, and makeup are usually considered mixed materials. However, a few brands have become spotlight exceptions with their innovative sustainable structures.
Recycling Made Easy:
A recycling platform organization called Terracycle is changing the game by working with hard-to-recycle materials and accepting these pieces through their special recycling programs. (I have actually started investing in Terracycle boxes for my home in addition to all of the stores having them)
How to Recycle with AILLEA:
Free Recyclables Drop-Off:
AILLEA takes part in the Terracycle: Zero Waste Box program. There is a Terracycle box at every AILLEA location for you to bring your cleaned empties in for some really great rewards!
Join the Movement:
This program allows both businesses and residents to purchase a Zero Waste box, pouch, or pallet set which range in size based on the materials that each set is customized for.
You can purchase your Zero Waste box for beauty products here. Once your box is full, just ship it to your designated Zero Waste Warehouse and let Terracycle handle the rest. When your box reaches the facility it is emptied and the contents are re-washed, organized, and prepped for processing.
Ship Recyclables for Free:
To make the program even more available, Terracycle has also partnered with Garnier to accept all of the following products at participating locations by drop off, or by shipping your empty items in at no cost.
Small Actions Lead to Big Results
Sustainability is achieved-step by-step and is a journey that customers and companies can act on together for a strong positive impact. Sustainability comes in many forms and holds a different definition for each cosmetic consumer. Today, common sustainability initiatives involve making a change for cleaner ingredients, safe and recyclable packaging, and overall brand transparency and authenticity.
At AILLEA, we support clean, ethical, safe brands because it is our responsibility. We are passionate about providing the best products for your skin that are clean, sustainable, and trusted. By staying informed with our community, you can help combat the issue of overbuying and slow the production of plastic waste.